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Sam Fender can manage fame and be ‘as big as he wants’, says Mark Knopfler

Former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler has backed singer-songwriter Sam Fender to “be as big as he wants to be”.

Fender, from North Shields, North Tyneside, is one of the 50-plus artists to play on a new version of Knopfler’s Going Home: Theme from The Local Hero, which has been re-recorded in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

And the 74-year-old, who grew up a few miles up the road in Blyth, Northumberland, was full of praise for the 29-year-old, who has worked in Knopfler’s London studio.

Mark Knopfler visits Teenage Cancer Trust ward
Dire Straits star Mark Knopfler will release a charity version of Going Home: Theme from The Local Hero (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Knopfler told the PA news agency: “He’s progressing fast and developing into a major artist now.

“He’s going places, he could be as big as he wants to be.

“And I just hope that he can manage the ride alright.

“It’s a helter skelter ride, you know, so you hope that he’ll be able to cope with it all.

“I think he will. I think he’ll go all the way.

“You can’t think of that many youngsters better equipped to handle that – handle the size of it all and to handle the momentum of it all and the drama of it all.

“I think Sam’s gonna be huge.”

Knopfler rejected the notion of ever pinching himself that he wrote such pivotal rock tracks as Romeo and Juliet, Tunnel of Love or the huge-selling Brothers in Arms album.

Instead, he releases new material and, once it has been polished, lets the song go out into the world, he said.

“It’ll be out of the house, down the road, to have its own life,” he said.

“It just walks out of your life and starts getting smaller.

“And that’s because that (song) is having its own life.

“Part of the fascinating thing about being a songwriter is (the song) takes up a role in other people’s lives.

“It’s amazing what people tell you, how it sustains people, what it gives to people using it, using it for everything from birthdays, the holidays, to travelling down roads to places, deaths, births, you know, tragedies, celebrations, it’s just in people’s lives.

“It’s not yours any more.

“It belongs to the people who are making it part of their lives.”