Why I Left Dire Straits: The Journey of Pick Withers


In the world of rock and roll, Dire Straits remains a legendary band, known for their chart-topping albums and iconic hits. The band’s original drummer, Pick Withers, played a pivotal role in their early success. However, after contributing to four albums and experiencing the highs and lows of life on the road, Withers made the surprising decision to part ways with the band. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind his departure from Dire Straits and his remarkable journey thereafter.

The Deafening Volume and Ear Troubles

One of the first elements that led Pick Withers to contemplate leaving Dire Straits was the band’s growing inclination towards playing at deafening volumes. This shift in their musical style took a toll on his hearing. Withers remembers the time when he began to experience trouble with his balance after coming off the stage, a clear indication of the damage being done to his ears. Although he didn’t fully realize the extent of the problem at the time, it was a pivotal factor that played into his decision. The relentless loudness was pushing him towards an uncertain future, and it was time for a change.

Evolving Musical Direction

As the band’s musical direction evolved, Withers felt that the drums were losing their significance in the conversation. Dire Straits was moving towards a style that revolved more around the song’s lyrics and less around intricate drumming patterns. The shift towards a stadium rock sound left Withers feeling disconnected from the music he loved to play. The essence of the band was changing, and it was becoming evident that the drumming he excelled in was not aligning with the band’s new direction.

Personal Dynamics

Apart from the musical aspects, personal dynamics within the band started to take their toll on Withers. While it’s always a sensitive subject, Withers hints at disagreements and tensions that arose among the band members. These interpersonal issues were a contributing factor in his decision to part ways with Dire Straits. The band that had once been a close-knit unit was beginning to unravel, and it was clear that a change was in order.

A New Chapter: Joining Bob Dylan

After leaving Dire Straits, Pick Withers embarked on a new musical journey—one that would see him collaborate with legendary artist Bob Dylan. Joining Dylan’s band was a remarkable opportunity, but it also came with its own set of challenges. Withers recalls being initially terrified of the prospect of working with Dylan, a musical giant in his own right. However, he decided to embrace the unknown, much like a talented footballer transferring from a hometown team to a world-renowned club.

The Dylan Experience

Working with Bob Dylan was a unique experience for Withers. Dylan’s approach to recording was different from most artists of his era. He focused on capturing the essence of the song within the first few recording attempts. This meant that the musicians had to be on their toes and deliver exceptional performances from the get-go. Dylan’s insistence on using the initial vocal takes as the master vocal added to the pressure. However, this high-octane environment was a groundbreaking experience for Withers, and he thrived in it.

A Legendary Journey

In hindsight, Pick Withers’ decision to leave Dire Straits and collaborate with Bob Dylan was a pivotal moment in his career. While Dire Straits had its own brand of success, working with Dylan exposed him to a different world of music and recording. It was a journey that allowed him to grow as a musician and embrace new challenges. In the end, he realized that sometimes, leaving one legendary chapter behind can lead to the creation of another, equally legendary one.


Pick Withers’ departure from Dire Straits marked a significant turning point in his musical journey. It was a decision driven by a combination of factors, including the band’s changing dynamics and his personal aspirations. His subsequent collaboration with Bob Dylan showcased his adaptability and talent as a drummer. It goes to show that in the ever-evolving world of music, sometimes, the best decisions are the ones that lead to unexpected, extraordinary experiences.

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