FORMER Dire Straits bass guitarist John Illsley is to talk about the life and times of working with one of the UK’s best-known groups at an event in Melksham later this month.

As a founder member, he was a major part of one of the biggest bands of all time, playing alongside guitarist brothers Mark and David Knopfler and drummer Pick Withers, and helped to create their very distinctive sound.

“I was introduced to Mark by his brother David, with whom I shared a rented council flat in Deptford in London,” recalls John, 69, who now lives near Lymington, Hampshire.

“David later left the band because of personal differences with Mark. When you’re working in a band that’s creative, relationships can sometimes get pushed to the edge and David didn’t enjoy the touring element as much as the rest of us.”

After launching their first album, Dire Straits, in October 1978, the group sold well over 100 million albums worldwide.

By the time they officially disbanded in 1995, lead singer Mark Knopfler and Mr Illsley were the only two original band members remaining.

In the process, Dire Straits spent 1,100 weeks in the UK album charts alone and received countless awards including four Grammies and three Brit Awards.

Last year, the group was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so Mr Illsley knows exactly what it takes to be starting out, what it’s like when you’ve arrived and what a rollercoaster it all can be.

Now he has decided to share some of that history in ‘The Life and Times of Dire Straits’, an evening of music and memories which should be a complete treat for anyone remotely interested in music.

Mr Ilsley will be interviewed by old friend and Dire Straits co-manager Paul Cummins and his new band will play many of the Dire Straits’ classics.

They comprise Robbie McIntosh and Scott Mckeon on lead guitars, Mr Illsley on bass guitar, his musical director Steve Smith on keyboards and Stuart Ross on drums. Hannah Robinson will play guitar and provide backing vocals.

Kicking off on March 14 at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington, The Life and Times of Dire Straits runs until March 25th taking in venues across the UK.

The show promises to be a fascinating eye-opener with some wonderful music thrown in - an utterly entertaining and unique night out.

The show takes place on Sunday, March 17, at the Melksham Assembly Hall, at 7.30pm. Tickets at £25 are available from the Assembly Hall on 01225 709887. Copies of his latest album, Coming up for Air, will be on sale.