Dire Straits recorded and released their first, self-titled album in 1978 to little fanfare but five months later a single release, "Sultans Of Swing" became an unlikely chart hit and album sales took off. The second album followed soon afterward; these first two albums featured a stripped-down band sound. The third album, Making Movies featured keyboardist Roy Bittan (from Bruce Springsteen's band) and marked a move towards more complex arrangements and production which would continue throughout the band's career. The band's 1985 release Brothers in Arms was an international hit and spawned several singles including the number one hit "Money for Nothing". A long period of inactivity followed with only a hits compilation and a live set released for the next six years. The band's final original studio album, On Every Street was released in 1991 to mixed reviews and moderate success. Mark Knopfler would later concentrate on solo projects and film music.
The band's line-up changed over the years, but one constant was Mark Knopfler, who wrote most of the band's songs and acted as clear leader of the band. (The best-of album Sultans of Swing contains only two songs not credited to Knopfler alone: "Money For Nothing", which he co-wrote with Sting, and "Tunnel of Love", which contains an instrumental section based on music from Carousel but is otherwise all Knopfler's own work.)