"I think what we’ve had is an embarrassment of riches, really" – Mark Knopfler announces all-star charity band with over 60 members with Gilmour, Ringo, Jeff Beck, Sting, Clapton and Brian May all onboard

Mark Knopfler charity single
(Image credit: Peter Blake)

As promised at his recent guitar auction extravaganza, Mark Knopfler has assembled a group of 54 musical greats in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. The roll-call reads like a who's who of rock and has David Gilmour, Sting Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, Slash, Ringo Starr, Steve Cropper, Duane Eddy, Steve Vai, Sheryl Crow, Sam Fender, Nile Rodgers, Peter Townshend, Hank Marvin, Tony Iommi, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Armatrading amongst the cast of stellar names.

They've recorded a new version of Knopfler's 1983 solo soundtrack instrumental Going Home: Theme From Local Hero and Peter Blake has designed a special Sgt Pepper-style cover for the charity single.

The single will also mark the final recording made by the late Jeff Beck.  The musicians are billing themselves as Mark Knopfler’s Guitar Heroes with some exceptions – Ringo Starr and his son Zack Starkey (The Who) are on drums. Sting plays bass and Roger Daltrey is on harmonica. The song was produced by former Dire Straits keyboardist, Guy Fletcher.

Then Jeff Beck’s contribution arrived and that was spellbinding

“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 I knew where I was, Pete Townshend had come into my studio armed with a guitar and an amp. And that first Pete power chord…man, I tell you — we were in that territory, and it was just fantastic. 

"And it went on from there. Eric [Clapton] came in, played great, just one tasty lick after another. Then Jeff Beck’s contribution arrived and that was spellbinding. I think what we’ve had is an embarrassment of riches, really. The whole thing was a high point.”

The new version of the song was recorded at West London’s British Grove Studios and we were surprised to discover most of the artists tracked in person there. Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, and Albert Lee were the first with only a few artists submitting their parts remotely.

The full list of musicians appearing on the song is reportedly as follows:

Joan Armatrading
Richard Bennett
Joe Bonamassa
Joe Brown
James Burton
Jonathan Cain
Paul Carrack
Ry Cooder
Jim Cox
Steve Cropper
Sheryl Crow
Danny Cummings
Duane Eddy
Sam Fender
Peter Frampton
Audley Freed
Vince Gill
Buddy Guy
Keiji Haino
John Jorgenson
Sonny Landreth
Albert Lee
Greg Leisz
Alex Lifeson
Steve Lukather
Phil Manzanera
Dave Mason
Hank Marvin
Robbie McIntosh
John McLaughlin
Tom Morello, Rick Neilsen
Brad Paisley
Mike Rutherford
Joe Satriani
John Sebastian
Connor Selby
Andy Taylor
Susan Tedeschi
Derek Trucks
Ian Thomas
Keith Urban
Steve Vai
Waddy Wachtel
Joe Louis Walker
Joe Walsh
Glenn Worf

The song will be released on 15 March and you can preorder it here

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.