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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
Knopfler ends Hay on great note
Mark Knopfler
Knopfler - inspired from the age of four
Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler helped bring the curtain down on the 20th Hay festival with a solo performance and a rare interview.

The 57-year-old prefers to do his talking through his guitar but was happy to discuss his love for music, stretching back to childhood.

But he does not miss the band, whose Brothers In Arms album was once the UK's best ever seller, or the fame that came with it.

"It just got too big," he admitted.

"It got to the point when I'd get into the catering area and didn't recognise the truck drivers. What I loved about touring is that you felt like a little family.

"The road crew would travel all over the world, they were independent, great people and I valued the relationship we had with them - and we had a part of the crew who had been from Wales."

"I feel incredibly privileged, but if anyone can tell me one good thing about fame, I'd be very interested to hear it. It's a by-product of success."

I don't go nuts if a tune doesn't come - I wait for it to happen, even if it takes 40 years
Mark Knopfler

He now prefers the smaller stage and different musical settings.

"Now I'm more folk music-based, I'm writing for the string bass, accordion, I love the fiddle - I'm writing for these kind of instruments too."

'Pulsing power'

As well as playing hits like Sultans of Swing, Romeo and Juliet and the theme from Local Hero, he drew on songs inspired by his childhood.

He thanked his family for his introduction to music

"My uncle Kingsley in Newcastle was a very happy young guy, he had a harmonica, banjo and played the boogie woogie piano. I remember thinking - I was four - this is for me. It was cosmic, like the blocks of logic were crashing into place."

His father later bought him a 50 version of the Fender Stratocaster, he coveted.

"I think I slept with it on the first date. This was what I wanted. The old guy in the shop said when we were leaving - 'stick at it.'"

Knopfler in Dire Straits
Dire Straits stopped performing in 1995

"I didn't have the nerve to ask my dad for an amplifier, so I plugged it into the radio and had the 1.5 watts of pulsing power! It blew up shortly afterwards."

He played Secondary Waltz - about his strict ex-army Scottish gym teacher who taught his pupils to dance - "waltzing with fear in their hearts", although he admitted it took him 40 years to find the right melody for it.

"I don't go nuts if a tune doesn't come - I wait for it to happen, even if it takes 40 years."

But Knopfler may have been lost to acting - had the National Youth Theatre not cast the best parts in the modern-dress Julius Caesar in Sunderland to students from London.

"We had a couple of weeks off school to rehearse which was great, but they brought in these students from Rada - the Geordies were the spear carriers and the mob.

"I know what you're going to say, nothing much has changed."

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