sultans of snub

Mark Knopfler’s Rock Hall Feud Is Apparently Political

Photo: SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Vulture’s sister vertical the Cut has a recurring column called “I Think About This a Lot,” in which people vent about the minutiae that remain in their brains on loop. If this writer were to ever contribute to it, she would pen a thousand-word opus about Dire Straits’ doomed 2018 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which began with Mark Knopfler refusing to say anything about the honor in the weeks leading up to it and ended with, well, a spectacularly messy ceremony in which the three attending band members had to induct themselves since nobody else would. Coupled with the fact that Knopfler accepted another music award months later in Scotland? It’s October 2021, and the man still hasn’t explained himself. We respect his dedication.

But John Illsey, Dire Straits’ bassist, can at least try to explain … something. In a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Illsey (who was present at the induction along with keyboardists Guy Fletcher and Alan Clark) offered a little more intel into Knopfler’s thought process, which apparently took a political turn. “It was quite tricky to get it right, to be honest. I knew Mark … was somewhat reluctant, because of the way it was politically handled. I completely understood that,” Illsey said. “But I just felt that at least one of us should be there to acknowledge it. To me, it was sort of a prestigious thing to be offered to the band, no matter what you think about it. It’s a recognition of something and fairly important. I didn’t want to let that go. I wanted to celebrate it in a way as best we could under the circumstances.”

Illsey also admitted it was “a little odd” that the trio of Straitsmen had to induct themselves into the Rock Hall. In April 2018, days before their ceremony, Illsey stated that Knopfler wasn’t being forthright with the band about the thinking behind his non-attendance. “He’s got his reasons,” Illsey said about Knopfler, “which he really doesn’t want to share with me, which is unusual because we’ve shared most things over the years.” Maybe he’s just exhausted after moving all of those refrigerators and color TVs for decades?

Mark Knopfler’s Rock Hall Feud Is Apparently Political