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'Why didn't you invite me earlier?'

By Sumit Bhattacharya
Last updated on: February 22, 2005 13:08 IST
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The key to understanding Mark Knopfler, the legendary guitarist, is Knopfler, the man.

In March 2004, he ran his 800cc Honda motorcycle into a car which had turned right without indicating. Knopfler broke nine bones, could not play guitar for months, and fans doubted whether their everyman hero would be the same.

In an interview to the Telegraph, the minimalist maestro said, 'Poor woman, she didn't have much going for her,' about the person who nearly killed him.

Mark KnopflerWhen asked the guitar God why he didn't press charges, and if it reflected the real him, Knopfler's response was typical of his solos – short, sweet and more eloquent than a thousand words – "Why the hassle?"

Excerpts from an interview with the man who will play in Mumbai on March 5 and Bangalore on March 7:

What was your first reaction when you were approached to play in India?

I was ecstatic. I readily accepted [Event organiser DNA chief] Venkat Vardhan's invitation. He gave me a report on all the great acts he had brought down to India and I said, 'Why didn't you invite me earlier?'

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'Why don't we get benefit of doubt?'

India is perceived in the West as the land of yoga and mysticism. Does coming to play a rock concert here seem paradoxical?

No. Rock has plenty to do with yoga and mysticism. There's years of practice and pain. Composing and writing is quite mystical. The inspiration can come all of a sudden or it can take a long while…

How much do you know of India? Have you ever been here before?

These days you read about India, or hear about it all the time. As a musician, one can't escape the influence of Indian classical music…

This is my first time [in India].

Are you aware you have many ardent fans here?

I heard about it from Venkat and my management.

You were a journalist once upon a time. What was it like?

I was a cub reporter doing the music beat during my journalism days. I enjoyed it, for I was covering something I loved.

Mark KnopflerYou and Carlos Santana are probably the only two living rock guitar players with an instantly identifiable sound. What's the secret?

There is no secret, just years and years of picking, strumming, plucking, practicing chords, listening to classical music, jazz, the blues, rock…accompanying great musicians.

Will you be playing any Dire Straits songs, like Romeo and Juliet?

I'll play all the Dire Straits songs, including Romeo and Juliet.

What is Mark Knopfler the man like, as opposed to Mark Knopfler the star?

One segues into the other. The family man and musician are the same.

What is the line-up you will be visiting India with?

There's Chad Cromwell on drums, Glenn Worf on bass/vocals, Richard Bennett on guitars and Matt Rollins, piano, Hammond/vocals. There'll also be backup.

Do you believe Mark Knopfler was too good to be just part of Dire Straits?

There's a time and a place for everything. Dire Straits was part of my musical journey. I have outgrown those days of the mega-band and tours.

As for my solo career, it's you the critic, and listeners who decide whether I have evolved.

Mark KnopflerYou walked away from stadium rock to do soothing music you listen to with a cup of coffee looking at the sunset. Was that a conscious decision?

I think I still offer a blend of stadium rock and the softer, more mellow songs of the recent past. Check out Boom, like that on Shangri-La.

Do you believe honest plug-in-and-play music can survive technological advancements, software, DJs?

Yes, because creativity will always outpace technology.

Your favourite guitar?

All of them really. I carry half a dozen guitars or more on concert. I use different kinds for different songs.
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Sumit Bhattacharya