Home » Phil Palmer Opens Up About the Difficult Decision to Depart from Eric Clapton for Mark Knopfler: ‘It Was Terrible

Phil Palmer Opens Up About the Difficult Decision to Depart from Eric Clapton for Mark Knopfler: ‘It Was Terrible

In a recent interview with Guitar World, Phil Palmer delved into his experiences working with both Dire Straits and Eric Clapton. After numerous years as a session guitarist, he found himself collaborating with Dire Straits on multiple occasions.

Despite having the opportunity to work with Clapton, Palmer made the decision to join Mark Knopfler before officially becoming part of the band. Reflecting on the pivotal moment when he had to decline Clapton’s offer, the rocker shared his narrative:

“I was still engaged with Eric, and we had a massive outdoor show in Knebworth. During that performance, Eric and Mark Knopfler decided to merge the two bands, combining elements of Eric’s and Dire Straits’ songs. I developed a good rapport with those guys, and things progressed to the point where I eventually became part of their ensemble.”

Exploring the Circumstances Behind Clapton’s Offer to Collaborate with Palmer

A critical turning point led to Clapton extending an offer to Palmer. Just before embarking on the recording of his ‘Unplugged’ album, the rock legend faced a heartbreaking tragedy—the loss of his son. Grieving and needing time away from music, Clapton’s manager stepped in to handle responsibilities, and it seemed Palmer was about to do the same. Palmer recounted:

“But the catalyst was that Eric experienced a major tragedy in his life when he lost his son in New York, who tragically fell out of a window and passed away. We all attended the funeral, and shortly after, Eric’s manager conveyed, ‘Guys, if any opportunities arise, you should take them, as Eric won’t be involved in anything.'”

Palmer went on to detail how he ultimately joined Dire Straits, emphasizing the challenging decision he faced in turning down Clapton:

“Shortly after, I worked out a deal with Mark and signed a contract with Dire Straits. However, literally the next day, Eric reached out, saying, ‘Listen, I’m not going to sit around idly. I want to create an Unplugged album. Can you do it?’ I had to decline. It was a difficult decision.”

Palmer Reflects on the ‘Unusual’ Experience of Collaborating with Knopfler

Having committed to working with Dire Straits, the rocker found himself collaborating with the band on numerous occasions. However, the experience of working with the band’s guitarist, Knopfler, proved to be markedly different from his collaborations with other artists. In the continuation of the same interview, Palmer candidly shared his perspective on Knopfler and the unique techniques he had to master:

“I had to grasp his incredibly distinctive picking technique, where his right hand, resembling that of a banjo player, executes these peculiar movements. So, we came together, I mastered it, and off we went. Mark is incredibly inspiring, and he revels in experimentation. It was truly remarkable to play alongside him during those two years.”

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