Dire Straits bassist on why Mark Knopfler isn’t attending Rock Hall ceremony: “He just didn’t feel like coming”

Courtesy of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Founding Dire Straits bassist John Illsley is one of three members of the group confirmed to attend the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony this Saturday in Cleveland. Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler won’t be taking part in the festivities, and now Illsley has revealed a somewhat vague reason why.

“He just didn’t feel like coming, it’s as simple as that,” John tells Billboard. “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.’”

Mark’s brother, founding Dire Straits rhythm guitarist David Knopfler, is also skipping the ceremony, although keyboardists Alan Clark and Guy Fletcher are expected to be there.

Clark claimed in a recent post on his official website that he, Illsley and Fletcher planned to perform an acoustic version of Dire Straits’ epic “Telegraph Road” at the ceremony with Stevie Wonder sitting in on vocals, but John tells Billboard that was just a joke.

“That’s Alan having a bit of fun,” Illsley explains. “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.”

John says that after Mark told him he wasn’t going to show up, he told him, “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,” he added.

Illsey tells Billboard he’s “very proud of being inducted,” adding, “I think it’s fantastic for the band” and its fans.

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