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The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets

Sultans Start Swinging: ‘Dire Straits’ Arrives In The US Charts

On January 6, 1979, their eponymous gave the band their first-ever appearance on the Billboard album listings.

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'Dire Straits' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
'Dire Straits' artwork: UMG

The very mention of Dire Straits conjures thoughts of millions of fans, global success and multi-platinum sales. But Mark Knopfler and the band toiled extremely hard to make that happen.

Their first single, “Sultans Of Swing,” was a critical success but a commercial failure when it first came out in the UK in May 1978, and when the self-titled parent album came out soon afterwards, its chart imprint was modest, with an initial No.38 peak. The American release followed in October, and then on January 6, 1979, Dire Straits gave the band their first-ever appearance on the Billboard album chart.

By that time, their reputation as a live attraction was matching that of the funky little band that Knopfler wrote about in that soon-to-be-trademark single. 1978 was a year packed with Dire Straits’ own shows, support tours with Talking Heads and the Climax Blues Band, a short residency at the Marquee Club and their first headline tour, all in the UK; and then sellout dates in Germany, Holland, and Belgium in the autumn, as the album became a huge success in Australia and New Zealand.

The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then
Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing

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The debut LP, produced by Muff Winwood, made a healthy start at American radio, with the result that the January 6 edition of Billboard showed Dire Straits on the main album chart for the first time, debuting halfway up the list at a healthy No.101. The following week, the record was listed in the magazine as a National Breakout, climbed to No.93, and an ad that ran in the same issue described it as “the last word in first albums.”

Listen to uDiscover Music’s Dire Straits Best Of playlist.

In February, as the record continued its climb, the band began a huge, 51-date North American tour, famously attended in Los Angeles by Bob Dylan. That led to Knopfler’s fruitful working relationship with him, which extends to the modern day.

The Dire Straits album went on to a No.2 peak in the States, spending 41 weeks on the chart and reaching double platinum status. “Sultans” became a No.4 hit on the Hot 100, and on its UK reissue, hit No.8. With that momentum, the album rebounded to No.5 in Britain, went on to sell a million, and the band never looked back.

Buy or stream Dire Straits.



  1. Harry Rypdal

    January 7, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Down to the Waterline is the best ever!;)))

  2. Jay Thornton

    January 7, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Don’t know how many times I bought this album. My favorite band ever

  3. Zach Elmquist

    January 7, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Never has an act played with the precsion that Dire Straits gave at live shows and not a note was wasted on any or their studio albums.

  4. francis gabriel fernandes

    January 8, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Feelsgud to read lis,en and recall anything that is of Dire Straits
    My al time favourite. one and the only band

  5. salvatore brandonisio

    January 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Il massimo, grandi!!!

  6. Marta paraventi

    January 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    My online Dream is playing Guitar thinking about Mark knopfler the Genius

  7. Raffaele

    January 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Please re-union!!! With Mark!

  8. Beate Weiß

    January 21, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Liebe Freunde der Dire`s ,
    kommt nach Leipzig und hört Euch die Scuttles an: Musik der Dire Straits und Martk Knopflers vom Feinsten. Hier zu hören im Tonellis am 7.2.2015.

  9. Paul Rodenhuis

    January 22, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    2JJ (DoubleJ) in Sydney played Sultans from May, giving it high rotation. Commercial stations didn’t play it because Sit was 7 minutes long – they only played 3 min pop. Eventually the commercial stations picked it up. I bought the album the day it was released in August. Loved it from first hearing.

  10. BETTY

    January 6, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Sultan’s of Swing és lo mejor de todos los tiempos y mi favorita
    Viva Dire Straits – Mark Knopfler

  11. Henk

    January 6, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Een van mijn favoriete albums ever

  12. Adriana Cristina Soares Teixeira

    January 7, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Amo essa banda meu pai que me apresentou o Mark Knopfler e demais meu sonho e conhecer ele

  13. Blackeye

    January 8, 2017 at 2:14 am

    Dire Straitsoneofmy all time favorite bands.this is one of my favorite albums by the band. Not a bad song in the bunch. Sultans of Swing is great, but Down to the Waterline, Six Blade Knifed, Wild West End – they’re all good. Lions Isaac favorite also. There’s just not a bad song on this album.

  14. Roberto Felici

    January 6, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    La mia band preferita. Nel 2018 mi piacerebbe assistere ad un concerto tipo Alchemy con tutti i componenti del 1983. PLEASE RE-UNION!!! WITH MARK KNOPFLER!

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The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets
The Beatles Red and Blue Boxsets
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uDiscover Music - Back To Top