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Guitar heroes: Mark Knopfler unites 54 rock legends, from Slash to David Gilmour, for new charity single

Guitar heroes: Mark Knopfler unites 54 rock legends, from Slash to David Gilmour, for new charity single

Mark Knopfler calls it “an embarassment of riches”, and rock fans will be inclined to agree. The Dire Straits frontman has assembled some of the world’s most renowned guitarists, from Slash and David Gilmour to Pete Townshend and Joan Armatrading, for a special charity song.

The supergroup, named Guitar Heroes, comprises 54 musicians who joined forces to play on “Mark Knopfler’s Going Home: Theme Of The Local Hero”, proceeds from which will raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Contributions from musicians such as Joan Jett, Sheryl Crow, Ronnie Wood, Joe Bonamassa and the late Jeff Beck have been edited together for the nine-minute track – due for release on 15 March – which will also raise funds for Teen Cancer America.

The special recording also includes The Who frontman Roger Daltrey, honorary patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust, on harmonica, The Police singer Sting on bass, and The Beatles’ Ringo Starr on drums.

The instrumental track opens with the last recording of guitarist Jeff Beck, who died last year. The recordings were edited together by Knopfler’s former Dire Straits bandmate, Guy Fletcher.

Sir Peter Blake was enlisted to recreate the iconic 1967 Beatles album cover for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with all 54 guitarists.

Mark Knopfler’s guitar heroes (Peter Blake)
Mark Knopfler’s guitar heroes (Peter Blake)

“What I really want to do, more than anything else, is just to thank each and every one for this sterling response,” Knopfler said in a statement.

“I really had no idea that it was going to be like this. It hit Guy and I quite early on that we had to extend this piece somehow, to take in the number of people who joined in.”

Before he knew it, Knopfler said, Townshend had turned up to his studio “armed with a guitar and an amp”, soon followed by Eric Clapton who played “one tasty lick after another”.

“Then Jeff Beck’s contribution arrived and that was spellbinding,” he said. “I think what we’ve had is an embarrassment of riches, really. The whole thing was a high point.”

Mark Knopfler gathered together some of the world’s greatest guitarists (AP)
Mark Knopfler gathered together some of the world’s greatest guitarists (AP)

Some of the musicians recorded in person at British Grove Studios in west London, while others sent in their contributions from around the world.

Net proceeds from the record will go to the two charities, while guitar makers have also donated eight guitars to be signed by the contributing artists to add to the fundraising. One will be auctioned off by Knopfler at a private donor event in Newcastle on the evening of 1 March , ahead of Newcastle’s clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on 2 March.

L-R: Joan Armatrading, Mark Knopfler, Slash and Sam Fender (Getty)
L-R: Joan Armatrading, Mark Knopfler, Slash and Sam Fender (Getty)

A number of artists who performed on the song will attend the match, where a sneak peak of a portion of the song will be played for Newcastle fans as the players enter the stadium.

Who plays on the track?

The full list of contributors is as follows: Joan Armatrading, Jeff Beck, Richard Bennett, Joe Bonamassa, Joe Brown, JamesBurton, Jonathan Cain, Paul Carrack, Eric Clapton, Ry Cooder, Jim Cox, SteveCropper, Sheryl Crow, Danny Cummings, Roger Daltrey, Duane Eddy, Sam Fender,Guy Fletcher, Peter Frampton, Audley Freed, Vince Gill, David Gilmour, BuddyGuy, Keiji Haino, Tony Iommi, Joan Jett, John Jorgenson, Mark Knopfler, Sonny Landreth, Albert Lee, Greg Leisz, Alex Lifeson, Steve Lukather, Phil Manzanera, Dave Mason, Hank Marvin, Brian May, Robbie McIntosh, John McLaughlin, TomMorello, Rick Nielsen, Orianthi, Brad Paisley, Nile Rodgers, Mike Rutherford, Joe Satriani, John Sebastian, Connor Selby, Slash, Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Zak Starkey, Sting, Andy Taylor, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Ian Thomas, Pete Townshend, Keith Urban, Steve Vai, Waddy Wachtel, Joe Louis Walker, Joe Walsh, Ronnie Wood, Glenn Worf, Zucchero.

A Christie's art handler holds up Mark Knopfler's Red Schecter Telecaster guitar, among more than 120 guitars to be sold at auction last month (PA)
A Christie's art handler holds up Mark Knopfler's Red Schecter Telecaster guitar, among more than 120 guitars to be sold at auction last month (PA)

The track comes shortly after Knopfler auctioned over a hundred of his personal guitars, which sold for a total of more than £8m.

Twenty-five per cent of the total earnings will be divided equally between charities The British Red Cross, Tusk, and Brave Hearts of the North East.

Auction house Christie’s said it would also donate £50,000 to each of the charities.

“Going Home (Theme From Local Hero)” will be released on 15 March on BMG and is available to pre-order now.