Written by frontman Mark Knopfler "Sultans of Swing" is a song by British rock band Dire Straits from their eponymous debut album. Released in 1978, its 1979 rerelease made it a hit in the United Kingdom and United States.
The demo of the song was recorded at Pathway Studios, North London, in July 1977 and quickly acquired a following after it was put on rotation at Radio London. Its popularity soon reached record executives, and Dire Straits were offered a contract with Phonogram Records. The song was then re-recorded in February 1978 at Basing Street Studios for the band's debut album.
The lyrics were inspired by a performance of a jazz band playing in the corner of an almost empty pub in Deptford, South London. At the end of their performance, the lead singer announced their name, the Sultans of Swing; Knopfler found the contrast between the group's dowdy appearance and surroundings and their grandiose name amusing.
Mark Knopfler has improvised and expanded the solo during live performances. The coda of the live recording on the 1984 album Alchemy stretches the song to nearly 11 minutes.