We were looking for a break - we didn't know it would be permanent; BRINGING BACK TO LIFE THE MUSIC OF ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE BANDS IN ROCK MUSIC, WE TALK TO CHRIS WHITE AHEAD OF HIS LIVERPOOL DATE WITH THE DIRE STRAITS EXPERIENCE.
I heard someone (maybe John Dankworth) playing on TV when I was about 11 and went to school the next day and asked if I could learn saxophone.
Amazingly, the school had a soprano in a sack in a store cupboard, which they said I could take home, and see how I got on. I knew within about two weeks that I loved it and that was what I wanted to do!
When I was coming to the end of my school years, I wanted to go to music college, but no one would have me because at that time, saxophone wasn't considered a 'proper instrument' so I headed off to London to do a Social Science degree and play saxophone with as many people as I possibly could.
HOW did you come to tour with Dire Straits and were there any standout experiences? I was making inroads to the London session scene and was getting called for recording sessions with all kinds of people, which was fantastic.
One day, I came home to find a yellow Post-it note stuck to the phone. It said "Wednesday 10am Air Studios, Tenor Sax, Film score. Mark Knopfler. 1 Track maximum 1hour". I went along, met Mark who said "it's just a bit of sax on one track Chris, shouldn't take long".
We recorded that track and Mark said, "Could you just try a bit on another track as well?" I left the studio three days later having played on just about the whole movie. As I was leaving, Mark said, "Chris, you must come and play with the band The movie was Comfort and Joy."
Playing Live Aid with Dire Straits was one of the highlights of my career. It seemed like just everybody from the music business was there, the most incredible atmosphere.
We were actually in the middle of a 13-night run of shows at the Wembley Arena (part of the Brothers in Arms tour UK section), so once we had played our set at Live Aid, we walked across the car park from the stadium and started getting ready to play our own show.
As people finished at Live Aid, some came across and sat in with our show. This was July 13, 1985, which was also my 30th birthday.
It was also a great privilege to play at the Nelson Mandela concert a few years later. Made even more special because Eric Clapton was playing rhythm guitar with us. Another incredible day.
HOW come Dire Straits seemed to finish whilst they on top? Dire Straits came to an end some while after the end of the On Every Street Tour. It kind of just happened without any ceremony, really.
The Every Street Tour had lasted for 18 months and I think I had a total of 10 days at home during that time, so at the end of that, everyone was looking forward to a break. We just didn't know it would be permanent.
I started recording with lots of other people after that, and also worked with Mark on a couple of his solo albums, so still felt in touch.
DO you ever think the band would get back together, do you think the appetite is there from the members or the public? I really don't think the band will ever get back together. Mark has a very successful solo career now so I think it would be strange for him to go back and play only the Dire Straits songs.
I think the fact that so many people are now coming to see Dire Straits Experience shows that there is definitely an appetite.
HOW does it feel to still be touring the world playing the songs? I am surprised to still be touring and playing Dire Straits songs now. People still want to hear them and especially see them played live.
The support from fans has been incredible and humbling. It is a testament to Mark's songwriting talent that this is the case. He has written timeless songs.
WHAT can fans expect when they come to see The Dire Straits Experience? We try to give fans the experience of what it was like to go to a Dire Straits concert.
But, that doesn't mean we present a carbon copy of one particular concert note for note!
So fans will hear songs like, Telegraph Road, Private Investigations, Walk of Life, Brothers in Arms, Sultans of Swing and all the favourites, as well as some possible less obvious things like Once Upon A Time In The West and Lady Writer, for example.
But, one of the most exciting things about working with Mark and Dire Straits was that things were different every night. For example, those places where there was interplay between saxophone and guitar, were never scripted; they went where they went, depending on how we felt each night.
To that end, we have assembled a band of musicians who listen and play in that dynamic way, which maintains the live energy and sense of risk taking, which was such an important part of Dire Straits and I think is why so many people are coming to see what we do.
Like Dire Straits, we also have a great lighting designer, so it's good to look at as well!
THE Dire Straits Experience Tour is coming to the Liverpool Philharmonic in June. Did you ever work with any of the Fab Four in your time? The Beatles were a massive influence. I was definitely a fan, so getting the chance to work with Paul McCartney was immense.
I was recording the North Of A Miracle album with Nick Heyward at Air studios at the time. The producer was Geoff Emerick, the man who had engineered all of The Beatles recordings with George Martin, both legends in the business.
Geoff was also engineering the music for Paul's film Give My Regards To Broad Street, so he was working one week on Nick, and one week on the film.
One day during recording with Nick, I had a call from the producer of the film asking me to go along to Elstree studios because they needed a sax player for the recording of Silly Love Songs in the movie.
I went along and was offered the job. A few days later, they called and asked if I would go in for a make-up day, they had an idea for the scene and wanted to try something out.
On the day, as I was sitting in the make-up chair, I heard Paul going down the corridor, saying hello to everyone as he passed the rooms. He said "hello Barbara" to Barbara Daly, who was making me up as he passed our room.
After a few steps, he turned around and came back and walked into the room and said:"You're Chris, aren't you?" "Pleased to meet you." "Do you know what this is about?" "Well, no."
At which point, he drew up a chair and sat beside me for 15 minutes giving me a synopsis of the movie. I couldn't believe it. I didn't hear a word he said! All I could think was this is Paul McCartney sitting here talking to me. I had one of the most enjoyable weeks ever working on that movie."
| The Dire Straits Experience comes to the Liverpool Philharmonic on Tuesday, June 26
Saxophonist Chris White of the Dire Straits Experience
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|Publication:||Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Apr 19, 2018|
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