13 Incredible Bands Similar To Dire Straits

Written by Dan Farrant

If you’re a fan of rock music, the name Dire Straits probably rings a bell. This British band, fronted by Mark Knopfler, made waves in the late 1970s and ’80s with their fusion of rock and roll, country, and folk music.

While Dire Straits has a distinct sound that’s hard to replicate, there are several bands that share similar soundscapes. So if you’re looking to broaden your musical horizons while staying true to the style you love, you’re in luck.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of 13 incredible bands like Dire Straits for some inspiration for your next playlist. Let’s get started.

Dire Straits by Helge Øverås (CC BY-SA 4.0)

1. The Black Crowes

Emerging from the late 1980s music scene with a distinctive southern rock sound, The Black Crowes have carved a unique niche for themselves. Their music, a potent mix of blues, rock, and soul, is celebrated for its dynamic style.

Their big break arrived in 1990 with the release of their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, which landed at #4 on Billboard 200. With memorable hits like “Hard to Handle” and “She Talks to Angels,” the band quickly rose to prominence.

The Black Crowes’ popularity continued throughout the ’90s, backed by successful albums such as The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (a chart-topper) and Amorica (Gold-certified).

However, internal conflicts and frequent lineup changes created instability within the band, culminating in an official disbandment in 2015.

Thankfully, bridges were mended in 2019 for a tour, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their debut album. Since then, The Black Crowes have continued to tour and make music.

2. The Eagles

From the 1970s music scene of Los Angeles, we have the legendary band The Eagles. Known for their harmonies, memorable melodies, and versatile songwriting, they became one of the best-selling bands ever, and their music has remained a staple in the classic rock genre.

Their music combines rock, country, and folk elements that influenced Dire Straits. The Eagles rose to fame with hits like “Take It Easy” and “Desperado.” Their album Hotel California, released in 1976, is considered one of the greatest albums ever. It features some of their most famous songs, including the title track and “Life in the Fast Lane.”

In 1998, The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a testament to their immense presence in music. Today, they remain one of the best-selling bands of all time, having sold over 200 million records worldwide.

3. The Allman Brothers Band

Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, The Allman Brothers Band was an influential American rock band whose southern rock, blues, and jazz drew parallels to Dire Straits.

The band is often credited with pioneering the Southern Rock genre and was best known for their long, improvisational jams with a strong focus on dueling guitar solos and intricate drum patterns.

The band’s career was marked by multiple breakups and reunions, personal tragedy, and a rotating lineup. Despite these challenges, they managed to produce several chart-topping albums like At Fillmore East, considered one of the best live albums of all time, and Eat a Peach.

The Allman Brothers Band’s illustrious works earned them a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. After 45 years of making music and touring, the band officially retired in 2014. Despite their retirement, their music continues to inspire and influence musicians today.

4. Traveling Wilburys

The supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, who emerged in 1988, consisted of Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, George Harrison of The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison. The band came together almost by happenstance to create country, folk, and roots rock–infused music.

The story goes that they initially gathered at Dylan’s home studio to record a B-side for one of Harrison’s singles. The result was so impressive that they decided to form a band.

The Traveling Wilburys released only two albums: Volume One and Volume Three. Their debut album was a commercial success, hitting #3 on the Billboard 200 chart, and is often hailed as a classic. It included the hits “Handle with Care” and “End of the Line.”

However, the band was short-lived. Orbison passed away shortly after the release of their first album, and the group disbanded after their second album. Despite their brief time together, The Traveling Wilburys left a lasting impact on rock music.

5. Little Feat

In the city of Los Angeles in 1969, vocalist-guitarist Lowell George and keyboardist Bill Payne came together to form the rock band Little Feat. They would go on to be celebrated for their mix of rock, blues, R&B, country, and folk music, a style similar to Dire Straits’.

The band’s discography is as diverse and rich as their music. Debuting in 1971 with an eponymous album, they went on to release 15 more over their career. Popular songs include “Willin’,” “Dixie Chicken,” and “Spanish Moon.”

The untimely passing of George in 1979 was a significant blow, but the band decided to carry on with their musical journey. Over the years, the lineup has experienced several changes, with Payne being the only founding member still part of today’s ensemble.

Through all the shifts and challenges, Little Feat has remained a beloved presence in the rock music world, lauded for their fusion of musical styles and their lasting impact on the genre.

6. Gov’t Mule

The bluesy rock sound, heavy guitar-driven compositions, and emphasis on improvisation of Gov’t Mule align with the musical spirit and instrumental prowess often found in Dire Straits’ work.

Formed in 1994, Gov’t Mule has released a staggering 25 albums, including their self-titled debut in 1995, Dose in 1998, the Deep End series in the early 2000s, and more recently, Peace…Like a River.

Gov’t Mule’s music often features guest appearances from other prominent musicians, highlighting their deep connections within the music industry.

These days, Gov’t Mule continues to push the boundaries of rock music, forging their path with a sound that resonates with fans of diverse musical genres.

7. The Doobie Brothers

With music echoing Dire Strait’s style but with a hint of pop, soul, and soft rock, we have next The Doobie Brothers. Formed in 1970, the original members were Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Dave Shogren, and John Hartman.

The band found commercial success in the 1970s with hits like “Listen to the Music” and “Long Train Runnin’.” Their sound evolved significantly when singer-songwriter Michael McDonald joined the group in 1975, adding elements of blue-eyed soul and soft rock to their music.

After disbanding in 1982, The Doobie Brothers reunited in 1987 and have been active ever since, continuing to tour and record new music. Their latest album, Liberté, has been well-received by fans.

In addition to their commercial success, the Doobie Brothers have received critical acclaim. They have won four Grammy Awards and, in 2020, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

8. Big Head Todd And The Monsters

From Colorado, the rock band Big Head Todd and The Monsters has carved out a distinctive place in the music scene. Todd Mohr (vocals/guitar), Brian Nevin (drums/percussion), and Rob Squires (bass) formed the band in 1986, and they have been lauded for their rock, blues, and soul sound.

They’ve made waves with hits like “Bittersweet,” “Boom Boom,” and “Broken Hearted Savior.” Their discography spans several commercially successful albums, including Strategem, Beautiful World, and the Platinum-certified Sister Sweetly.

Today, this energetic ensemble continues to create music and perform live. Known for their robust touring schedule, they often share stages with other well-known bands. In the summer of 2023, for instance, they’ve scheduled co-headlining tour dates with Blues Traveler.

9. The Rolling Stones

During the 1970s, The Rolling Stones incorporated blues, country, and rock elements, mirroring Dire Straits’ genre-blending approach and guitar-driven sound.

Hailing from London and making their debut in 1962, the band’s core members include the charismatic Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood.

With a discography that includes rock anthems like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” and “Angie,” The Rolling Stones have carved out a legacy that has inspired countless other artists. Their albums, such as Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St., are considered some of the greatest in rock history.

Today, The Rolling Stones is still very much active despite a career that has lasted over 60 years, both in terms of creating new music and performing live. Sadly, the band lost its long-time drummer, Charlie Watts, in August 2021, but his legendary beats are forever part of The Rolling Stones’ sound.

10. Lynyrd Skynyrd

From Jacksonville, Florida, Lynyrd Skynyrd is a rock band formed in 1964, originally called My Backyard. It comprised of Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Gary Rossington, Larry Junstrom, and Bob Burns.

Their music is a potent mix of blues-influenced hard rock and country, creating a sound that defined the Southern rock genre. Some of their most iconic songs include “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird,” which remain staples on classic rock radio stations to this day.

Tragically, in 1977, a plane crash claimed the lives of several members, including lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant. This led to a hiatus for the band. They returned a decade later with Ronnie’s younger brother, Johnny, taking over as the lead vocalist.

Today, Lynyrd Skynyrd is on the road again, celebrating over 40 years of being one of America’s seminal rock groups. Their Sharp Dressed Simple Man tour, which includes performances with ZZ Top and is set to commence in July of 2023, is already attracting fans old and new to see them live.

11. The Marshall Tucker Band

Next up is The Marshall Tucker Band. Their fusion of rock, country, and blues, highlighted by melodic guitar solos and heartfelt songwriting, resonates with the diverse musical influences embraced by Dire Straits.

Formed in 1972 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with original members Doug Gray, Toy Caldwell, Tommy Caldwell, George McCorkle, Paul Riddle, and Jerry Eubanks, some of their best-known hits are “Heard It in a Love Song,” “Fire on the Mountain,” and “Can’t You See.”

An important milestone in the band’s journey came on June 9, 2022, when the governor of South Carolina declared it Marshall Tucker Band Day throughout the state. This acknowledgment underscores the band’s enduring popularity and significant cultural contribution, both locally and beyond.

12. The Steve Miller Band

When Steve Miller moved to San Francisco, California, in 1966, he established The Steve Miller Band. Miller started his career in blues and blues rock. During the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, he evolved this to a more pop-oriented sound. This evolution resulted in some of the band’s most popular releases.

At the start of his career, Miller was a key part of the San Francisco music scene that revolutionized American culture in the late ’60s. His early albums, like Children of the Future, were heavily influenced by psychedelic rock and blues.

Over time, the band began to incorporate elements of pop and arena rock into their music. Their first major hit, The Joker, came in 1973 and marked the beginning of this new phase in their career.

Miller and his band followed this success with a string of hit singles and albums, including Fly Like an Eagle and Book of Dreams. Today, they continue to tour and perform, demonstrating their enduring appeal.

13. Supertramp 

Formed in 1969, Supertramp is a British rock band that made waves in the global music scene, most notably in 1979 with their sixth album, Breakfast in America.

Supertramp’s sound—a blend of progressive rock, pop, and art rock—is characterized by the use of Wurlitzer piano and saxophone, thoughtful lyrics, and the distinctive voices of Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies.

They debuted in 1970, but with the release of Crime of the Century in 1974 came their breakthrough. The album featured the hits “Dreamer” and “School.”

In 1979, the aforementioned Breakfast in America catapulted them to global stardom. The album included the fan favorites “The Logical Song,” “Goodbye Stranger,” and “Take the Long Way Home.”

Sadly, Supertramp has not been active since 2015. In a 2018 interview, Davies expressed that, due to health issues, the band was unlikely to return. Despite these challenges, Supertramp’s influence on the rock genre remains significant.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Dire Straits

As we come to the end of our exploration of bands like Dire Straits, it becomes clear that the influence and impact of this iconic band extend far beyond their discography. 

We hope with this list, we helped revive some nostalgic memories for long-time fans and sparked interest in new listeners. Each of these bands, in their unique way, carries forward the spirit of Dire Straits.

Our journey may end here, but the music plays on. Who have we missed that should be on this list? Let us know so we can add them!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.