Dire Straits have pulled out of performing at their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction this weekend – because leader Mark Knopfler won’t be there.
Bassist John Illsley tells Billboard that bandmate Alan Clark’s website post about an acoustic performance of the group’s Telegraph Road was in fact a joke – as the trio attending the ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio wouldn’t perform without Knopfler, who has opted not to show up for the career honor.
“That’s not going to happen,” Illsley says. “That’s Alan having a bit of fun. I was hoping people weren’t going to take it too seriously. I wouldn’t perform without Mark there, so it’s as simple as that, really. If Mark’s not there, there’s no point and, opening up about the band leader’s no-show, he adds, “Some people play and some people don’t. Some people turn up and some people don’t, it seems. We’ve got a combination of all that.
“He (Knopfler) just didn’t feel like coming, it’s as simple as that. It just didn’t appeal to him, and I appealed to him on several occasions. I said, ‘Look, I’d love you to get your head around this’. He said, ‘Look, I just can’t do it, John. I’m really sorry. It’s a great honor for us and all the rest of it, and I just can’t get my head around it’, so I’ve just got to respect it.
“He’s got his reasons, which he really doesn’t want to share with me which is unusual because we’ve shared most things over the years.
“So I said, ‘OK, I’ll go over, accept the award on your behalf and all the rest of the guys that aren’t there and that’ll be it. So that’s what’s happening.”
Knopfler’s bandmate brother David has also pulled out of the induction ceremony over a dispute about travelling expenses.
But Illsley plans to make the most of the honor, despite the no-shows, adding, “I’m very proud of being inducted. I think it’s fantastic for the band. I think it’s fantastic for all the musicians who have worked with us over the years, who have been part of the journey… and all the producers and engineers we worked with over the years. And I think it’s wonderful for all the people who bought the music and came to see the concerts and stuck with the band all these years.”
The induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland on Saturday (April 14). Nina Simone, The Cars, Bon Jovi, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and The Moody Blues will also be inducted.