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Star Interview: Former Dire Straits member Chris White

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It was 1977 when the now iconic band, Dire Straits, first formed, going on to earn a legion of fans with hits such as Money For Nothing, Brothers In Arms and Romeo And Juliet.

The original band split in 1995, with lead vocalist Mark Knopfler embarking on a solo career, but the fans have not forgotten those early hits.

And the enduring love of Dire Straits’ music was discovered when some members of the original band were asked to reform for a charity concert at the Albert Hall... thinking it would be a one-off.

The response was so immense that Dire Straits members Alan Clark and Chris White decided to form The Straits on a longer-term basis, bringing in Terence Reis as vocalist.

Chris said: “Terence was amazing. Without trying, he sounded just like Mark, it was uncanny. We did the Albert Hall concert, thinking it was going to be a one-off. But it went so well, we had invitations to do it up and down the country.

“The reaction has been heart-warming and humbling. Dire Straits has a huge and loyal fan base who want to hear all that stuff. The feedback we have had through social media has been people saying ‘thank you for doing it’.”

And Northamptonshire fans will be in for a treat on February 11 when The Straits play at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate as part of a national tour.

Chris said: “People come out expecting to hear Dire Straits so it will be Brothers In Arms, Romeo And Juliet, Money For Nothing... all those kinds of tunes, but we are writing new material.”

Looking back on his career, he sees highlights as having included taking part In the Live Aid and Mandela concerts during the 1980s.

He remembered: “Live Aid came during the Brothers In Arms tour. The band was already established, but this brought it to another level. It was a great and heady time, and then there was the Mandela concert.

“Live Aid was a fantastic day. Dire Straits was in the middle of a 13-night run at Wembley Arena. We went to do Live Aid and then walked across the car park to start work for our gig that night.

“To me, Live Aid was a real highlight. Getting the call to work with Ray Charles, that was an incredible highlight. I was taken to Paris to perform one night with Ray. There is such history there and he certainly changed the music industry.”

Known for his saxophone playing, Chris sees his work with the instrument as a developing art.

He recalled: “I was 14 when I started playing the saxophone. I was playing violin at primary school, it meant I got some time off lessons, it was that simple. Then I was watching TV one night and saw someone playing the saxophone and I thought that was really cool. I said to the head of music ‘I would love to play the sax’. He picked out a sax and he said ‘take this home and see what you can do with it’. I knew from that time, that was what I was going to do.

“In terms of ambitions, I’m still learning the sax.There are lots of things I can’t play and I’m still working really hard on that. I just want to stay playing. I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet to have done what I have.”

 

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