“He is the business, there is no doubt about that”: The young guitarist Mark Knopfler thinks can go “as far as he wants”

“He is the new local hero.”

Mark Knopfler

The English guitarist and songwriter Mark Knopfler performs on the stage of the Stupinigi Sonic Park. Stupinigi (Italy), July 17th 2019 (Photo by Elena Di Vincenzo/Archivio Elena Di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

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Mark Knopfler has sung the praises of fellow Geordie Sam Fender in a new interview.

The Dire Straits guitarist has brought together a host of music legends for an all-star re-recording of Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust. Nile RodgersBruce SpringsteenQueen’s Brian MaySlashEric ClaptonRonnie Wood and Joan Jett are all among the names appearing on the track, which also features the last ever recording by Jeff Beck, captured shortly before his death in January 2023.

Fender also collaborated on the album, and Knopfler tells Chronicle Live that he sees him as the new “local hero” in their native Newcastle. He has also been recording in Knopfler’s studio.

“He is the business, there is no doubt about that,” he says. “As always, it is all based around the songs. He is the new local hero. Sam can go as far as he wants.”

Elsewhere, the track features contributions from blues maestros like Buddy Guy and Joe Bonamassa, and country rockers Sheryl Crow and Vince Gill, and even Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello.

Others involved include Beatles legend Ringo Starr and his son Zak Starkey on drums, Sting on bass, and Roger Daltrey on the harmonica.

“Pete Townshend was the first into the studio with his guitar and amp,” adds Knopfler. “When he plays a chord, it stays played.

“Then there was Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, who played some gorgeous stuff. That turned out to be Jeff’s last ever recording.”

The new version of Local Hero will be played as the players run out onto the pitch at Newcastle United’s home game against Wolves on 2 March. A number of the artists who played on the recording are expected to attend.

This isn’t Knopfler’s only charitable endeavour of late – last month, an assortment of his guitars and amps brought in nearly £9 million at auction, considerably higher than had originally been estimated. The proceeds were divided equally and donated to the British Red Cross, Tusk, and Brave Hearts of the North East.


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