Along with Mark Knopfler, bassist John Illsley was the only constant presence in the line up of Dire Straits until the band went on indefinite hiatus after the On Every Street tour wound up almost thirty years ago, having sold over 120 million albums, including 30 million copies of Brothers In Arms alone, in a fifteen year career. Despite its title, this autobiography covers the author’s life from his middle class childhood onwards, taking in his early forays into music before a chance meeting, created by looking for a flat mate, brought him into contact with David Knopfler and eventually his brother Mark, who contributes a pleasant if rather low key foreword. His best writing comes in describing the early days of the band in the pubs of London before the band hit the big time, and on his long-standing and enduring friendship with Mark Knopfler. He’s also sadly reflective on the cost of success, as ever-longer tours, particularly for the last three albums, kept him away from home for prolonged periods of time and ultimately resulted in two failed marriages. He’s rather diplomatic about the fall out that saw David Knopfler leave the band during the recording of Making Movies, and indeed he maintains an air of discretion throughout, so there are no great revelations to be found or secrets revealed. Nevertheless, this is a very pleasant read, honest and written with a dry sense of humour, and quite gentle in its overall tone, which seems to reflect the author’s unassuming personality. I’d certainly recommended it to fans of a band that could at one time have arguably claimed to have been the biggest act in the world but seem to be strangely unfashionable nowadays.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
One thing you’ve learned
As well as maintaining a parallel career as an artist, the author has released no less than eight solo albums, which actually trumps the number of studio albums by the band.