Mark Knopfler’s Charitable Side

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Over the years, Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler have participated in numerous performances and recordings for good causes. On July 13, 1985, Live Aid was seen by millions as the birth of the “charity concert,” and Dire Straits was there with versions of “Sultans of Swing” “Money for Nothing” (before it was a hit song). Later that night, they crossed the parking lot and did another sell-out show at Wembley Arena during their massive worldwide “Brothers in Arms Live in 85” tour.

The Eighties saw many additional charity concert appearances. In June 1986, Dire Straits also participated in the 10th anniversary concert and celebration for the Prince’s Trust Charity. Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Elton John and many others also appeared. In 1987, Mark Knopfler performed several songs with Nashville guitar legend Chet Atkins for Amnesty International’s “Secret Policeman’s Third Ball.” In 1988, Dire Straits was the headline act for the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Party Concert at Wembley Stadium. Eric Clapton joined the band as rhythm guitarist and performed a slower-tempo version of “Wonderful Tonight.”

In the Nineties, Dire Straits appeared for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy charity at an all-day all-star concert in 1990 in Knebworth. In 1997, Knopfler performed at the Royal Albert Hall’s “Music For Montserrat” concert. Dire Straits had recorded their hit album “Brothers in Arms” at George Martin’s Air Studios in Montserrat, a tiny British territorial island which was hit by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and later devastated by a volcano in 1995.

In 2002, Knopfler reunited Dire Straits under the banner “Mark Knopfler and Friends” for a series of four concerts in July. Four separate British charities benefited from the shows: Teenage Cancer Trust, Save the Baby, Leuka 2000, and Countryside Education Trust. As for getting Dire Straits back together for good, Knopfler told reporters at the time, “I would only do that for a charity. I’m glad I’ve experienced it all – I had a lot of fun with it – but I like things the way they are.”

Mark Knopfler’s distinctive guitar work can be heard on charity recordings of “Let It Be” (1987’s single to benefit the victims of the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster), “Voices That Care” (1991, as a tribute to those serving in Operation Desert Storm), and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1996’s recording to benefit the victims and families of the horrific school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland).

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