Terry Williams played drums in Dire Straits from 1982 to 1988. In this interview, dated June 30, 2010, Terry answers several questions from the Norwegian Mark Knopfler Fanclub about his career as a drummer.
Hello, Terry! Thank you very much for your time and help, answering questions from the Norwegian Mark Knopfler Fanclub, MKNorge. As many might know, you joined Dire Straits as a drummer in 1982, but how and when did you start your career as a musician?
- I started playing the drums when I was 14 and was in a band called the Commancheros when I was 15. There were a lot of musicians in Swansea and we all played in different bands at different times.
Dire Straits released their first record in 1978, four years before you joined the band. What was your impression of the band’s music in that periode? Were you a fan?
- I had only heard the name Dire Straits and the Sultans of swing, I didn’t really know their music at that time.
You played with Dire Straits for several years. How did you get to meet Mark Knopfler in the first place? How did you join the band?
- I had been touring with Meatloaf from 1981 – 1982 and came home when the band split up. I had only been home for a few days when I had a call, asking me to come to London to do a session on the drums. My brother and I went to London and I played as was asked, I still didn’t know who it was for. A week later, I had another call saying that I had a permanent position as the drummer with Dire Straits.
The legendary Dire Straits live-recording, Alchemy, is newly released on Blu-ray and DVD. How was the process of making this record?
- The recording of Alchemy was of a live gig in Hammersmith Odeon. The band were so well rehearsed and so good, that no changes were made at all and it was put out as it was played.
Dire Straits were one of the major rock-bands of the eighties, and played for sold-out stadiums all over the world. How was it to be on tour with a band like that?
- I really can’t describe it. We all got on as friends, even the road crew and we travelled the world doing something we loved. It was a fantastic time, hard work but brilliant.
“Brothers in arms” is without doubt the band’s most successful release, and contains your work behind the drums. How does it feel to be a part of such a success? Did you know that this release would be special?
- It was totally amazing, but we didn’t know then how successful it was going to be, even Mark was surprised.
Mark Knopfler continued as a solo artist after the band was dissolved in 1995. What kind of relationsship do you have with Mark today?
- The same as always, but because of living in two different continents, we are not in close contact that often.
Before and after you played with Mark Knopfler in Dire Straits you played with other bands and artists, can you name some of the musicians you have played with?
- The Man band, Rockpile with Dave Edmunds, Meatloaf and a few others.
After Mark Knopfler decided continue his work as a solo artist, the band-members from Dire Straits have gone in different directions. What have you been up to since you left the band?
- I played in many major concerts eg John Lennons 50th birthday tribute, free Nelson Mandela concert, Chuck Berry’s 60th birthday at Madison Square gardents in New York. The giants of rock and roll in Rome Guitar legends in Seville, Hearts of fire, film with Ronnie Wood and Bob Dylan, Tina Turner album Private Dancer, and many more. As I have been playing drums for over 40 years, I have now retired.
Many great musicians have contributed with their talent in Dire Straits over the years. Do you still keep in contact with some of the old band-members?
- I speak to Alan Clark and John Illsley quite often, also Jack Sonni who now lives in Santa Barbara.
As a final question: Do you have any memories from the band’s visit in Norway in 1985? Or anything you would like to say to the Norwegian fans?
- The first time I visited Norway with Dire Straits was in 1985 when we played two nights at the Drammeshallen in Oslo on 22-23rd September. it was the first gig of our live tour and I loved Norway. The people, their enthusiasm and how clean the country was, but it was very cold.
Message to the fans: Thank you so much for your contuining support, I really appreciate it, especially as drummers are not always picked out. I am honoured and I thank you.
Best wishes, Terry Williams