Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in London in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Pick Withers (drums and percussion). They were active from 1977 to 1988 and again from 1990 to 1995.

Their first single, "Sultans of Swing", from their 1978 self-titled debut album, reached the top ten in the UK and US charts. It was followed by hit singles including "Romeo and Juliet" (1981), "Private Investigations" (1982), "Twisting by the Pool" (1983), "Money for Nothing" (1985), and "Walk of Life" (1985). Their most commercially successful album, Brothers in Arms (1985), has sold more than 30 million copies; it was the first album to sell a million copies on compact disc and is the eighth-bestselling album in UK history. According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Albums, Dire Straits have spent over 1,100 weeks on the UK albums chart, the fifth most of all time.

Dire Straits' sound draws from various influences, including country, folk, the blues rock of J. J. Cale, and jazz. Their stripped-down sound contrasted with punk rock and demonstrated a roots rock influence that emerged from pub rock. There were several changes in personnel, with Mark Knopfler and Illsley being the only members who lasted from the beginning of the band's existence to the end. After their first breakup in 1988, Knopfler told Rolling Stone: "A lot of press reports were saying we were the biggest band in the world. There's not an accent then on the music, there's an accent on popularity. I needed a rest." They disbanded for good in 1995, after which Knopfler launched a solo career full-time. He has since declined reunion offers.

Dire Straits were called "the biggest British rock band of the 80s" by Classic Rock magazine; their 1985–1986 world tour, which included a performance at Live Aid in July 1985, set a record in Australasia. Their final world tour from 1991 to 1992 sold 7.1 million tickets. Dire Straits won four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards (Best British Group twice), two MTV Video Music Awards, and various other awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Dire Straits have sold over 120 million units worldwide, including 51.4 million certified units, making them one of the best-selling music artists.

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1978Dire StraitsDire Straits4.732
1979CommuniquéDire Straits4.524
1980Making MoviesDire Straits3.929
1982Love Over GoldDire Straits4.3535
1985Brothers in ArmsDire Straits4.6553
1991On Every StreetDire Straits3.8519

Album + Compilation

1988Money for NothingDire Straits414
1991Dire StraitsDire Straits1
1998Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire StraitsDire Straits3.6515
2005The Best of Dire Straits & Mark Knopfler: Private InvestigationsDire Straits & Mark Knopfler515
20112 for 1: Brothers in Arms / On Every StreetDire Straits1
2011The Ultimate Best of Dire StraitsDire Straits1
2013The Studio Albums 1978–1991Dire Straits53
2018Deep CutsDire Straits1

Album + Live

1984Alchemy: Dire Straits LiveDire Straits4.517
1984Alchemy: Dire Straits Live, Part One (first part of "Alchemy: Dire Straits Live" as an independent release)Dire Straits2
1984Alchemy: Dire Straits Live, Part Two (second part of "Alchemy: Dire Straits Live" as an independent release)Dire Straits3
1993On the NightDire Straits312
1995Live at the BBCDire Straits311
2008Sultans of Swing - Live In GermanyDire Straits2
2020Takes San Francisco ’79Dire Straits1
2021San Francisco 1979Dire Straits1


1978Sultans of SwingDire Straits56
1978Water of Love / Down to the WaterlineDire Straits1
1979Lady WriterDire Straits2
1979SkateawayDire Straits1
1982Industrial DiseaseDire Straits1
1985Money for NothingDire Straits47
1985So Far AwayDire Straits51
1985Walk of LifeDire Straits44
1986Brothers in ArmsDire Straits53
1986Your Latest TrickDire Straits2
1991Calling ElvisDire Straits54
1991Heavy FuelDire Straits32
1992On Every StreetDire Straits52
1992The BugDire Straits3
1992You and Your FriendDire Straits41
1994Ticket to HeavenDire Straits51
2015Kingdome ComeDire Straits1
2015Millionaire BluesDire Straits1
2020Private Investigations / Badges, Posters, Stickers, T‐shirtsDire Straits1
2020Tunnel of LoveDire Straits1
2020Sultans Of Swing / Eastbound TrainDire Straits1

Single + Live

1984Love Over Gold / Solid RockDire Straits51
1984Two Young Lovers / Expresso LoveDire Straits1


1978Sultans of SwingDire Straits51
1982ExtendedancEPlayDire Straits6

EP + Compilation

1986Brothers in Arms: The VideosinglesDire Straits1

EP + Live

1993EncoresDire Straits6

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