Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, September 21st

On this day in 1980: During a North American tour, Bob Marley collapsed while jogging in New York’s Central Park. After hospital tests he was diagnosed as having cancer. Marley played his last ever concert two nights later at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

On this day in 1985: Dire Straits went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘Money For Nothing.’ The song is off their 1985 album ‘Brothers In Arms.’ The song features a guest appearance by Sting singing background vocals, providing both the signature falsetto introduction and backing chorus of “I want my MTV.” 

It was Dire Straits’ most commercially successful single, peaking at #1 for three weeks in the United States, #1 for three weeks on the U.S. Top Rock Tracks Chart chart and #4 in the band’s native U.K. “Money for Nothing” won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1986 at the 28th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony and the video won Video of the Year at the 3rd MTV Video Music Awards.

Mark Knopfler described the writing of the song in an interview: “The lead character in “Money for Nothing” is a guy who works in the hardware department in a television/​custom kitchen/​refrigerator/​microwave appliance store. He’s singing the song. I wrote the song when I was actually in the store. I borrowed a bit of paper and started to write the song down in the store. I wanted to use a lot of the language that the real guy actually used when I heard him, because it was more real.”

According to Knopfler, he was in New York and stopped by an appliance store. At the back of the store, they had a wall of TVs which were all tuned to MTV. Knopfler said there was a man working there dressed in a baseball cap, work boots, and a checkered shirt delivering boxes who was standing next to him watching. As they were standing there watching MTV, Knopfler remembers the man coming up with lines such as “what are those, Hawaiian noises?…that ain’t workin’,” etc. He also refers to a musician “banging on the bongos like a chimpanzee” and a woman “stickin’ in the camera, man we could have some fun”.

Let’s take a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day in 1985:

1 3 MONEY FOR NOTHING Dire Straits (Warner Brothers)-11 (1 Week at #1)
2 4 CHERISH –•– Kool & The Gang (De-Lite)-12 (2)
3 1 ST. ELMO’S FIRE (Man In Motion) –•– John Parr (Atlantic)-14 (1)
4 2 WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER HERO –•– Tina Turner (Capitol)-12 (2)
5 6 DON’T LOSE MY NUMBER –•– Phil Collins (Atlantic)-10 (5)
6 8 FREEDOM –•– Wham! (Columbia)-9 (6)
7 9 POP LIFE –•– Prince & The Revolution (Paisley Park)-9 (7)
8 5 POWER OF LOVE –•– Huey Lewis & The News (Chrysalis)-13 (1)
9 15 OH SHEILA –•– Ready For The World (MCA)-8 (9)
10 14 DRESS YOU UP –•– Madonna (Sire)-6 (10)

11 13 DARE ME –•– The Pointer Sisters (RCA)-11 (11)
12 10 INVINCIBLE (Theme From “The Legend Of Billie Jean”) –•– Pat Benatar (Chrysalis)-12 (10)
13 17 TAKE ON ME –•– A-Ha (Warner Brothers)-11 (13)
14 18 SAVING ALL MY LOVE FOR YOU –•– Whitney Houston (Arista)-6 (14)
15 19 LONELY OL’ NIGHT –•– John Cougar Mellencamp (Riva)-5 (15)
16 7 FREEWAY OF LOVE –•– Aretha Franklin (Arista)-14 (3)
17 25 DANCING IN THE STREET –•– Mick Jagger & David Bowie (EMI-America)-4 (17)
18 12 YOU’RE ONLY HUMAN (Second Wind) –•– Billy Joel (Columbia)-11 (9)
19 20 CRY –•– Godley & Creme (Polydor)-10 (19)
20 16 SMOKIN’ IN THE BOYS ROOM –•– Motley Crue (Elektra)-11 (16)