Born on 24 June 1949, in Leicester, Illsley was the bass player for the British rock band Dire Straits. Introduced to lead singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler by Mark's brother, David Knopfler, Illsley was one of just two original band members remaining when it broke up in 1995.
He also released two albums of his own, Never Told A Soul in 1984 and Glass in 1988. His first album had clear Dire Straits influences, however, his style had notably changed by the second. Mark Knopfler contributed some of the guitar parts on both issues.
He is now building a reputation as a talented painter.