The Notting Hillbillies
Following the incredible success of the Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms album and tour, Mark Knopfler was looking for a change of pace. Mark formed the country outfit The Notting Hillbillies with old friends Steve Phillips, Brendan Croker and Guy Fletcher. Rounding out the line-up were Ed Bicknell on drums, Marcus Cliffe on bass and Paul Franklin on steel guitar. The Notting Hillbillies decided on that moniker, since they recorded their songs at a studio in the London neighbourhood of Notting Hill.
Their first gig happened in May, 1986 at a small club in Leeds. Borrowing from the songbooks of such artists as The Louvin Brothers, The Delmore Brothers and Charlie Rich, as well as their own compositions, the Hillbillies set out on a UK tour, although their lone album Missing…Presumed Having A Good Time wasn’t released until 1990. Despite the fact that the players had returned to their own projects by the time the album was released, Missing… was still a big success. In March 1990, it made it to the #2 position on the UK album charts, while stateside, it charted at #52 on The Billboard 200. The single ‘Your Own Sweet Way’, which was composed by Mark, peaked at #20 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart.
In the years since the release of Missing…Presumed Having A Good Time, the Notting Hillbillies have reunited to perform at a variety of charity concerts in the UK. They have also had short residencies at Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham and London in 1998 and again in London in 1999. Among a host of important TV appearances in Europe and the USA two of the most notable came in May 1990. In that month Channel 4’s Rock Steady programme in the UK aired the Hillbillies gig at The Maltings at Snape, and the band were musical guests in the USA on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, where they performed ‘Railroad Worksong’ and ‘I Think I Love You Too Much’. They also provided the track ‘Blues Stay Away from Me’ on the 1998 Paul Newman/Susan Sarandon film soundtrack, Twilight. ‘Your Own Sweet Way’ also appeared on the 1994 compilation album Harvest.