Dire Straits’ John Illsley Inducts Band at Rock Hall

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Dire Straits in 1978. l. to r.: John Illsley, Mark Knopfler, Pick Withers, David Knopfler (Photo from Wikipedia)

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the names of those giving induction speeches for the Class of 2018, noticeably absent in the list was a name attached to Dire Straits. And in the days prior to the British band’s induction on April 14 at Cleveland’s Public Hall, members of the group acknowledged that neither group leader Mark Knopfler nor his brother David Knopfler would be joining the festivities.

It’s certainly not unprecedented. Paul McCartney famously didn’t attend The Beatles’ 1988 induction, amid “business differences” among the group that soured him at the time. The Sex Pistols were no-shows at their 2006 induction, with leader Johnny Rotten referring to the institution in a statement as “a piss stain.”

Mark Knopfler still hasn’t addressed his reasons for not attending. (The Guardian‘s headline blared “Sultan of Snub.”) His brother blamed the Hall of Fame for his own absence. Asked by a commenter on his Facebook page why he was boycotting the event, David Knopfler posted, “In their wisdom after promising to pay my expenses they reneged on their promise … I can well understand that with only $5 mil a year in sponsorships and 100k a table and no fees for the artist that paying my taxi to the airport must have given them heart murmurs like Squeers hearing Oliver Twist asking for more and frightened them into refusal otherwise one might get the wrong idea entirely about what they’re all about.”

(L-R) Inductees Alan Clark, Guy Fletcher and John Illsley of Dire Straits attend the 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Auditorium on April 14, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin Kane/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; used with permission)

Shortly before the event, co-founder and bass guitarist John Illsley approached the organizers with a plan: he would induct the group. And so he did, addressing the proverbial 800-lb. elephant in the room… namely Mark Knopfler’s absence. “I can assure you it’s just a personal thing,” said Illsley. “Let’s just leave it at that.”

Illsley added, “I’m deeply honored to have my name included in such illustrious company. Music touches the lives of so many and it’s incredibly heartwarming to learn something you’ve been a part of has helped someone even in a small way.”

With just three members there, the band did not perform.

Dire Straits’ induction–as well as those of the Cars, Nina Simone, the Moody Blues, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Bon Jovi–will be seen in HBO’s exclusive broadcast of the Class of 2018 ceremony on Saturday, May 5, 8-11 p.m. ET/PT.

Watch the official trailer of HBO’s broadcast of the Class of 2018 induction ceremony

Related: Links for 100s of classic rock tours

At the post-induction press conference, Illsley–who attended with keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher–was asked about the unusual situation. “We didn’t have anybody to induct us, for all sorts of reasons. So I said, ‘Would it be crazy if I did it?’ A self-induction. I wrote it around 15 minutes before we came down.”

On April 17, Illsley tweeted a postscript

 

As for Mark Knopfler, he finally acknowledge the induction. Sort of. He (or his social media team) shared a published story on his Facebook and Twitter accounts on April 18.

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