Mark Knopfler facts: Dire Straits singer's age, songs, wife, children and career explained

14 August 2023, 16:13 | Updated: 14 August 2023, 16:21

Mark Knopfler in 1991
Mark Knopfler in 1991. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Mark Knopfler is a legendary musician who has been making waves in the rock scene for over four decades.

He is best known as the founder and leader of Dire Straits, one of the most successful bands of the 1970s and '80s, but he has also carved out a remarkable solo career and composed music for several films.

Here, we explore the life and career of Mark Knopfler, from his humble beginnings in Scotland and England to his global fame and recognition as a guitar hero and a master songwriter.

  1. How old is Mark Knopfler and where and when was he born?

    Mark Knopfler was born on August 12, 1949. He celebrated his 74th birthday in 2023.

    He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, as Mark Freuder Knopfler.

    He was raised in Blyth, near Newcastle, in North East England from the age of seven. His parents were Louisa Mary Knopfler (née Laidler), an English teacher, and Erwin Knopfler, a Hungarian Jewish architect and chess player, who fled from the Nazis in 1939.

    Mark has two siblings: an older sister named Ruth and a younger brother named David. David is also a musician and was a member of Dire Straits with Mark until he left the band in 1980, while Ruth was a teacher and a writer who has published several books. Ruth died in 2020, aged 73.

  2. How did Mark Knopfler get his start in music?

    Mark Knopfler got his start in music at a very young age, thanks to his uncle who played piano and harmonica.

    He was also influenced by the rock and roll and blues artists of the 1950s and '60s, such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, BB King, and Chet Atkins.

    He learned to play the guitar by himself, using a twin pick-up Höfner V2 that his father bought for him. He also experimented with different styles and techniques, such as fingerpicking and flat-picking.

    He played in various folk and country bands, such as the Duolian String Pickers and the Notting Hillbillies, before forming Dire Straits with his brother David, John Illsley, and Pick Withers in 1977.

  3. What are Mark Knopfler's most famous songs?

    Mark Knopfler’s most famous songs are among those that he wrote and performed with his band Dire Straits, such as 'Sultans of Swing', 'Money for Nothing', 'Walk of Life', and 'Brothers in Arms'.

    These songs were huge hits in the 1970s and '80s, and showcased Knopfler’s distinctive guitar style and lyrical skills.

    However, Knopfler has also written and recorded many great songs as a solo artist, such as 'What It Is', 'Boom, Like That', 'Sailing to Philadelphia' and 'Speedway at Nazareth'.

    He has also written for other artists, including Tina Turner's classic track 'Private Dancer'.

  4. Has Mark Knopfler been married and does he have children?

    Mark Knopfler and first wife Lourdes in 1985
    Mark Knopfler and first wife Lourdes in 1985. Picture: Getty

    Mark Knopfler has been married three times and has four children.

    His first wife was Kathy White, his long-time girlfriend from school days. They separated before Knopfler moved to London to join Brewers Droop in 1973.

    His second wife was Lourdes Salomone, whom he married in November 1983. They had twin sons, Benji and Joseph, who were born in 1987. They divorced in 1993.

    His current wife is Kitty Aldridge, a British actress and writer. They married in 1997 and have two daughters, Isabella and Katya.

    Mark Knopfler and wife Kitty in 2005
    Mark Knopfler and wife Kitty in 2005. Picture: Getty

    Benji Knopfler is also a musician, and has played drums in various bands. Joseph Knopfler is a business graduate and co-creator of Pedrino, an alcoholic tonic drink.

    Issy Knopfler is an actress who has appeared in a number of stage and TV dramas, including Silent Witness and Before We Die.