Why Sting Sang on Dire Straits' Only No. 1 Song 'Money for Nothing'

Why Sting Sang on Dire Straits' Only No. 1 Song 'Money for Nothing'

12/17/2021

Sting became a titan of classic rock, mostly thanks to The Police and his solo songs. In addition, he performed on Dire Straits’ only No. 1 hit, “Money for Nothing.” During an interview, Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler explained how he was able to get Sting to perform on “Money for Nothing.” Sting revealed he didn’t have high hopes for the song.

How The Police’s ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ inspired Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler

In a clip from the film Under the Volcano that Knopfler shared on Instagram, Knopfler said “Money for Nothing” might not be the same without The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” “I’d seen on MTV [that] The Police doing an ad for it, and I thought ‘Well if I stick [their words] to ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ …. that would fit,’” he said. 

Knopfler’s timing was impeccable. “We were recording ‘Money for Nothing,’ and I said to somebody ‘I wish Sting was here’ and somebody said ‘Well he is here, he is on holiday’ and I said that’s great I told him ‘Great, get him up here ’cause I can hear him singing on this thing,’” Knopfler said. “Sting came up to the studio. We already had the track in place. So he just sang it.”

The way the world reacted to Dire Straits’ ‘Money for Nothing’

“Money for Nothing” lasted 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, spending three of those weeks at No. 1. “Money for Nothing” is Dire Straits’ only top 10 hit in the United States besides “Sultans of Swing” and “Walk of Life.” Despite this, it was not the biggest hit of 1985. According to Billboard, that honor goes to “Careless Whisper” by Wham!.

“Money for Nothing” appeared on the album Brothers in Arms, which was also a hit. Brothers in Arms lasted 97 weeks on the Billboard 200. It spent nine of those weeks at No. 1.

“Money for Nothing” was popular in the United Kingdom too. According to The Official Charts Company, the song hit No. 4 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 16 weeks. Meanwhile, Brothers in Arms reached No. 1 there, staying on the chart for 271 weeks. “Money for Nothing” also inspired “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s spoof “Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*,” which appeared in the comedy UHF. “Money for Nothing” is Dire Straits’ most famous song in the United States — and it wouldn’t be the same without Sting.

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