1955 At six, he hears Lonnie Donegan, and the music bug bites him hard.
1956 Mark and family move to his mother’s home town, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
1960 Further musical inspiration comes from his uncle Kingsley, who plays harmonica and boogie-woogie piano, and Hank Marvin, when Mark hears the Shadows’ “Apache.”
1962-63 Entering his teens, he stops to gape in a Newcastle guitar shop window at a red Fender Stratocaster. He becomes more interested in mimicking ‘Wipeout’ runs on his school desktop than in his studies, and persuades his father to spend £50 on his first guitar, a twin pick-up Höfner V2. It’s cheap, but it’s red.
1964 Knopfler starts going to gigs at Newcastle City Hall, seeing Chuck Berry, among other visiting artists, and his first British rock star, Joe Brown. Meanwhile, he starts playing in local beat bands, hoping to replicate the licks of heroes like Marvin, Duane Eddy, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhardt and Lonnie Johnson.
1965 Aged 16, he forms a folk duo with his school friend Sue Hercombe, and they make it onto a local television report.
1967 Mark studies journalism for a year at Harlow College.
1968 He is hired as a junior reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post. On an early assignment, he accompanies journalist Stephen Phillips when he interviews a local musician making good in the Leeds area, coincidentally also called Stephen Phillips. The two guitar nuts become fast friends; some 22 years later, they are fellow members of the country rock spinoff group the Notting Hillbillies.
1970 Mark starts an English degree at Leeds University, the same year he records a demo of an early composition, “Summer’s Coming My Way,” with Phillips and other friends.
1973 Knopfler graduates from university and decides to try his luck in the London music scene, briefly joining the band Brewers Droop, who include drummer Pick Withers. Mark lectures at Loughton College in Essex and plays with Phillips in the Duolian String Pickers.
1975 Knopfler is focusing on the band Café Racers, as his brother David moves to London. The group’s ranks are later extended with the addition of David’s flatmate, Leicester-born bassist John Illsley.
1977 A pivotal year, in which Mark moves in with David and John and they start recording Mark’s songs. As his dexterity as a writer-guitarist become ever more obvious, they become a quartet with the addition of Withers, change their name to Dire Straits and record the famed demos that are played on BBC Radio London by author and broadcaster Charlie Gillett. A deal with Phonogram’s Vertigo label ensues, as do early Dire Straits club gigs.
1978 They support Talking Heads, then the Climax Blues Band, and play their first headline tour. “Sultans Of Swing” is released as a UK single. Despite critical acclaim, it misses the charts, but the band’s self-titled debut album charts in July, initially reaching No. 38. Sellout dates in Germany, Holland and Belgium follow in the autumn, as the album becomes a big success in Australia and New Zealand.
1979 Dire Straits, produced by Muff Winwood, debuts on the US album chart in January, and the band back it with a huge American tour. Bob Dylan comes to see them in Los Angeles, and the album peaks at No. 2 in the US, eventually going double platinum, with two Grammy nominations. “Sultans” hits No. 4 on the Hot 100, and on its UK reissue, No. 8 there. Dire Straits rebounds to No. 5 in Britain. The second album Communique follows in June, produced by Muscle Shoals notable Barry Beckett and the legendary Jerry Wexler.
1980 Third album Making Movies released, a double platinum seller in the UK and No. 1 in parts of Europe. David Knopfler leaves during its recording, with English keyboard player Alan Clark and Californian guitarist Hal Lindes joining for subsequent tour dates. Mark’s, and the band’s, creative reach extends ever further, notably with the 1981 British top ten hit “Romeo and Juliet”.
1982 Love Over Gold becomes Dire Straits’ first UK No. 1 album. Knopfler’s songwriting skills reach new levels of sophistication well beyond the confines of the three-minute single, particularly on the 14-minute opener “Telegraph Road” and the equally atmospheric UK No. 2 single “Private Investigations”.
1983 An eight-month world tour leads to the following year’s live album Alchemy; Knopfler co-produces Bob Dylan’s Infidels and writes and records his first film score, Local Hero (from which the sax-led “Going Home” continues to play as Newcastle United FC take to the pitch).
1984 The films Cal and Comfort and Joy are released with Knopfler scores, as he also produces The Knife for Scottish modern rock pacesetters Aztec Camera. On top of this he writes “Private Dancer”, the title track to Tina Turner’s most successful album.
1985 The year of the record-breaking Brothers In Arms. A global No. 1 and double Grammy winner, it contains the US chart-topper “Money For Nothing” and sells an estimated 30 million copies worldwide, also becoming the first million-selling compact disc. The ensuing world tour runs to almost 250 shows, during which the band also star at Live Aid.
1987 Knopfler completes his next soundtrack, for Princess Bride, and produces former Mink DeVille frontman Willy Deville’s Miracle album.
1988 Another prestigious studio credit, as he co-produces Randy Newman’s lauded Land Of Dreams.
1989 Last Exit To Brooklyn film soundtrack.
1990 The aforementioned Notting Hillbillies release the one-off Missing… Presumed Having A Good Time, and Mark collaborates with longtime hero Chet Atkins on the Neck and Neck album.
1991 On Every Street becomes the final Dire Straits studio album, topping the charts in the UK, Australia and throughout Europe.
1996 Another highly significant year, as Knopfler releases his first non-soundtrack album in his own name, Golden Heart, from which “Darling Pretty” is a UK top 40 single.
1999 Knopfler is awarded the OBE.
2000 After further soundtrack work on Wag The Dog (1998) and Metroland (1999), a second solo set follows, Sailing To Philadelphia, featuring guest appearances by James Taylor and Van Morrison. The album sells two million copies across Europe.
2002 As his work reflects ever more evidence of his folk and acoustic leanings, The Ragpicker’s Dream is released, featuring the single “Why Aye Man.” Another movie score, for A Shot At Glory, arrives the same year.
2004 Now on a highly productive and creative roll, and working with hand-picked, A-list musicians including his constant collaborator, keyboard player and engineer Guy Fletcher, Knopfler releases the Shangri-La album, followed as usual by an extensive worldwide tour of 100-plus shows.
2006 The fruition of a longtime ambition, a collaborative album with his friend and country music heroine Emmylou Harris. All The Roadrunning is followed by a 23-city tour of Europe and North America and the Real Live Roadrunning album. The same year, Razorlight’s self-titled, chart-topping second album is recorded at British Grove, the west London studio Knopfler has opened, where records will be made by Travis, Duffy and many others.
2007 Kill To Get Crimson is the first of Knopfler’s own albums to be recorded at British Grove. He follows it with a 94-date world tour.
2009 Get Lucky becomes a top three album throughout much of Europe, supported by another huge international tour the following year. British Grove wins the Music Producers Guild award for Best Studio.
2011 Knopfler plays a European tour of 30-plus dates in the autumn with his old friend Bob Dylan, repeating the feat in North America a year later.
2012 After producing Irish roots-rock artist Bap Kennedy’s The Sailor’s Revenge record, Knopfler releases his first studio double album, Privateering, which takes up its customary top ten berth in the UK and Europe. He wins an Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award.
2013 A 70-date tour of Europe follows, including his customary six sellout nights at the Royal Albert Hall.
2015 Knopfler releases his eighth non-soundtrack solo album Tracker; works on his next film soundtrack for director Hugh Hudson’s Altamira; and prepares for another major world tour starting in May.