Vince Gill Shares Why He Turned Down Collaboration with Mark Knopfler

via CMT / Youtube

Towards the end of the 1970s, Dire Straits gained popularity in England and became a successful band in the British rock scene. Mark Knopfler led the band to success and later pursued a successful solo career. Despite being underrated, the band is considered iconic and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018, four decades after their debut.

In the 1980s, Dire Straits had extended an offer to Vince Gill to join their band, but he declined and instead pursued a solo career, ultimately establishing himself as a highly talented vocalist. Gill has released more than 20 studio albums, with 40 of his singles charting on the Billboard charts. After achieving significant success on his own, Gill later joined the Eagles in 2017 following the death of Glenn Frey. Some may speculate that Gill’s decision to decline Dire Straits’ offer may have been a key factor in his subsequent solo success.

It is not clear why Vince Gill declined Dire Straits’ offer to join the band in the 80s.

In the 1980s, Vince Gill was offered a chance to join Dire Straits by Mike Knopfler. However, Gill turned down the offer, which was seen as a disastrous decision at the time since he relied on the money he earned as a session musician. Despite this, Gill had just signed a solo deal with a record label and was starting to establish himself as a solo artist. Although joining Dire Straits would have brought him fame and fortune, Gill decided to remain true to himself and trust his solo abilities. In a 2018 interview with iHeart Radio, Gill explained that he could have benefited financially from joining the band, but he chose to pursue his own path.

In 2018, he made the following statement:

“It was funny because I wasn’t making any money to speak of. Session work was keeping me alive, jingles and things like that. [Joining Dire Straits] would have solved anything. It would’ve been a great payday. But I told Mark, I said, ‘Man, I can’t bail. If I do this, it’s gonna talk a couple of years out of my life. I got a new record deal; if I bail on it, it’d kind of be admitting failure.‘ I said, ‘I can’t do that; I gotta keep trying.’ So I turned down the sure thing. Probably the dumbest move you could make.”

Despite being seen as a disastrous decision at the time, it turned out that declining the offer to join Dire Straits was actually the best decision for Vince Gill’s career. His rise to fame and success starting as a session musician is a remarkable story. Meanwhile, Dire Straits had their peak success between 1977 and 1988, and again in 1990 to 1995.