The drama behind Dire Straits’s induction into the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues to get even more, well, dire every day. Following the band’s awkward and weird induction segment at the ceremony on Saturday evening (which was uncharacteristically devoid of both a speaker and performance, owing to half of the band refusing to attend) one of the band’s members, keyboardist Guy Fletcher, is admitting that the lack of presenter wasn’t due to the group’s insistence on not having one for the occasion. Rather, it was because every musician that was asked refused to do it, since the group’s front-man and most prominent face, Mark Knopfler, wasn’t present.
“Simply that the people who were asked, decided not to show up after learning that Mark wasn’t to be there. I’m not sure of the timing of their decisions so it may not be as cruel as it seems,” Fletcher explained on his website. “For example, it may not have been known to them that the three of us would take the helm.” (If you want specific names, according to intel from Billboard, Keith Urban and Neil Young were asked but declined.) While Fletcher wouldn’t get into any more details about the intricacies behind the induction besides being humbled by the honor, he did also admit to a commenter that Knopfler should’ve released some sort of statement to explain his rationale for skipping the ceremony: “I agree.”
As previously reported on Vulture, Knopfler told the band’s bassist, John Illsley, that he just didn’t feel like attending the induction, offering up no specific reason why. “I know there’s been a lot of speculation about the fact that Mark is not here, but I can assure you, it’s just a personal thing,” Illsley later clarified during his induction speech, acting as the pseudo-presenter for the band. “It’s personal reasons, let’s just leave it at that.” Still, Illsley seems a bit bummed at Knopfler’s no-show, noting on Twitter how it “would have been great to play” together after all of these years.
The final Straitsman who attended the ceremony, keyboardist Alan Clark, is a bit more laid-back about the whole situation. “A great time was had by all. Except Mark who, as you’re probably aware, stayed at home,” he wrote on his blog. “John did an exemplary job of dealing with Mark’s absence.”