Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dire Straits (who?) visit Crossfields

On December 3rd last year, the Performing Rights Society put up a plaque on the wall of the flat that used to be occupied by members of a famous rock band, as part of a programme of installing plaques to commemorate where various bands have their origins. Dire Straits weren't exactly famous then back in the 70s, but it wasn't long before they were. The band's first gig took place in 1977 on the green behind Farrer House – the first Crossfields Festival – the electricity for which ran from their flat, thanks to an opportunistic pal who tripped the meter (as legend goes). They were called the Cafe Racers then, and became Dire Straits soon after for their first gig at The Albany Empire (with Squeeze).

Guitarist Mark Knopfler and bass player John Illsley unveiled the plaque to a small assembly of residents, PRS staff and press. Colin Bodiam –aka 'Bo'– who used to design and silkscreen posters for the Albany Empire (as it was known then) was there to get one of his old posters signed. Bo also lived on Crossfields then and printed his posters in the Pink Palace (No.1 Frankham). Completely co-incidentally, an auction of Bo's old posters took place later on at The Albany, an event which included music by other former Crossfields residents and attended by many previous tenants who have since flown the nest.

Knopfler chatted to residents beside the Farrer lawn and opposite the Love Over Gold mural which was partly inspired by the Dire Straits' song of the same name. The mural was designed and erected in 1989 by Gary Drostle in collaboration with local primary school children, and was commissioned by Lewisham Leisure, Dire Straits, the ILEA and Outset UK – the disability project which was housed behind the wall before Cockpit Arts. After the unveiling, CDs and album covers were signed at a small reception at the Laban.

Pix: Raphael Mergui and Sue Lawes


  1. Maybe it was originally Knöpfer, or Knoepfler, but I've always known it as Knopfler. And I've got a Dire Straits electric piano in my spare room, so there!

  2. Oo-er, Marmoset, I shall correct at once. Thanks for that. I've also spelt Illsley wrong!

  3. Don't worry, I meant to type ''Knöpfler'' but there's an internet law that states whenever you criticise or correct someones English a typo will automatically appear in said post. Every time!

  4. There was a bit of graffitti on the wall prior to the mural which said 'Love over Gold' it is a quote from Captain Beefheart somewhere, hence the reason for the album title. That's what some dodgy geezer told me anyway..

  5. was at the 1977 concert (lived 3rd floor above DS). They were first on the bill - a long way down from Estate favourites Squeeze. Great boozy, dopey day......