In the USA, it reaches Number 1 in August and stays there for nine weeks. Similarily, "Money For Nothing" with Sting as guest vocalist, is Dire Straits' first American Number 1 single. In the following months, "Brothers In Arms" also tops the charts in Canada, Brazil, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Eire, Finland, France, German, Greece, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Israel. Incidentally, "Brothers In Arms" becomes, perhaps, the key album in transforming CD from a new-fangled curiosity into a mass-market "music carrier".
The tour covers 23 countries, 117 cities, 248 shows and sells 3 million tickets. Legendarily, they play some astonishing unbroken runs of gigs for a major act, such as 23 straight nights in the UK in December 1985. On 13 July 1985, they perform to a billion TV viewers from the Wembley Stadium end of Live Aid. The tour ends in Sydney, Australia, the 20th night there, on 26 April 1986.
Busman's holidaying from the band, Mark records for the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's "The Colour Of Money" (starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman). He joins the "host of stars" re-recording "Let It Be" to raise money for the families of the Zebrugge ferry disaster victims; he plays with Chet Atkins at The Secret Policeman's Third Ball - a benefit for Amnesty International - then again on an American TV tribute to the great Nashville guitar man; as is to become traditional, he guests with Eric Clapton's band for his annual Royal Albert Hall winter session in London and a European tour; he writes and performs the soundtrack for the Rob Reiner movie "The Princess Bride"; he produces and plays on Willy DeVille's album "Miracle" and several tracks for Randy Newman's "Land of Dreams". Meanwhile, John Illsley releases a single under the name of K Wallis B and the Dark Shades of Night, plus his second solo album, "Glass".
On 9 November 1987 Lourdes gives birth to twin boys, Benji and Joseph.
In early 1988, Mark socialises with Steve Phillips and Brendan Croker, old guitar-picking friends from his Leeds days as an apprentice journalist. He offers to produce Phillips' next album. Over the ensuing months Synclavier meister Guy Fletcher becomes involved too and they very gradually record a set of some of their country blues favourites.
By now, Mark has used Nashville pedal steel guitar ace, Paul Franklin and `steals' him for Dire Straits.
Mark finishes an album of duets with Chet Atkins called "Neck and Neck", released November 1990 (UK Number 29 and Number 1 in the UK Country chart, multiplying Atkin's usual British sales by a factor of 6) and concludes other sideline recording work with Buddy Guy and Brendan Croker before - after a 5 year hiatus - he and John Illsley decide it's time to get back to Dire Straits. Mark and John play with Clapton's band at the Knebworth Festival benefit for Music Therapy, Mark spends the summer in America writing and comes up with 15 new songs from which the album will be chosen.
Bob Clearmountain mixes one track "Heavy Fuel".
The 1986 tour line-up is considerably changed and augmented. While Knopfler, Illsley, Fletcher and Clark are now officially designated Dire Straits, the nine-piece line-up now also features Chris White (sax), Paul Franklin (pedal steel), Danny Cummings (percussion), Phil Palmer (guitar) and Chris Whitten (drums).
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