Kevin Rowland

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Kevin Rowland
Rowland crop.jpg
Kevin Rowland in 2012
Background information
Birth nameKevin Rowland
Born (1953-08-17) 17 August 1953 (age 67)
Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, England
Genres Punk rock, new wave, soul, pop
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1974–present
Labels Mercury, Creation
Associated actsLucy and the Lovers, the Killjoys, Dexys Midnight Runners

Kevin Rowland (born 17 August 1953) is a British singer-songwriter of Irish descent and frontman for the pop band Dexys Midnight Runners (currently called Dexys), [1] which had several hits in the early 1980s, the most notable being "Geno" and "Come On Eileen", both of which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart.


Early life

Rowland was born in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, England on 17 August 1953 to Irish parents from Crossmolina, Co. Mayo, Ireland, [2] [3] and he lived for three years in Ireland between the ages of one and four before returning to Wolverhampton. The family moved to Harrow when he was 11 years old and he left school at the age of 15. [4]

Before his music career, Rowland worked as a hairdresser. [5]


His first group, Lucy & the Lovers, were influenced by Roxy Music and turned out to be short-lived. His next project, punk rock act the Killjoys, were slightly more successful, releasing the single "Johnny Won't Get To Heaven" in 1977.

Alienated by the punk scene, Rowland, together with Killjoys guitarist Kevin Archer, decided to form a new soul-influenced group, Dexys Midnight Runners. Many of the group's songs were inspired by Rowland's Irish ancestry and were recognisable through Rowland's idiosyncratic vocal style. On forming the band Rowland thought it was "important to have a vocal style", he later recalled, "and I had the idea of putting that 'crying' voice on", partly inspired by General Johnson of Chairmen of the Board. [6]

When Dexys disbanded in 1987, Rowland recorded a solo album, The Wanderer , which, together with its three singles, was a commercial failure. His next release was not until 1999 when he recorded a collection of interpretations of classic songs called My Beauty , the album cover of which depicted a heavily made-up Rowland in a dress and women's lingerie.

In 2003, Rowland reformed Dexys Midnight Runners—featuring only one other original member, bassist Pete Williams, who fulfilled the role as Rowland's co-vocalist—and embarked on a successful comeback tour backed up with a greatest hits compilation album including two newly recorded songs, "Manhood" and "My Life in England". Both of these new songs were radio tested by the record label, but neither received enough airplay to be considered for release.

In 2012 Rowland re-launched Dexys Midnight Runners as "Dexys" with a new album One Day I'm Going to Soar accompanied by a UK tour. Rowland has always identified strongly with his Irish background and in 2016 Dexys released their fifth album, Let the Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul , featuring interpretations of Irish folk songs such as "Women Of Ireland" and "Carrickfergus", among others.

Since around 2005, Rowland has hosted a popular DJ tour in clubs and venues throughout the UK. His eclectic set includes his personal favourites, vintage soul and pop numbers from such notables as T-Rex, Roxy Music, and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. [7]

In summer of 2020 Rowland released a new video for the song Rag Doll , a promo which features his grandson Roo. [8] In September 2020, My Beauty was re-released by Cherry Red Records and finally became a UK chart hit in October, peaking at number 73 in the albums chart. [9] [10]


According to Paul Moody in Uncut in 2007, "Rowland—as singer and songwriter with Dexys Midnight Runners—gave us some of the great pop moments. From the bolshy vision of Searching for the Young Soul Rebels through the celtic-gumbo of Too-Rye-Ay and '85's neglected masterpiece, Don't Stand Me Down , his is a towering contribution to British music, both visually and musically." [11]


Studio albums

YearAlbum details
1988 The Wanderer
1999 My Beauty


YearSinglePeak positionsAlbum
1988"Walk Away"95The Wanderer
"Young Man"
1999"Concrete and Clay"My Beauty
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Guest appearances

1988"Sean" (with The Proclaimers) Sunshine on Leith

Related Research Articles

Dexys Midnight Runners

Dexys Midnight Runners are an English pop band with soul influences from Birmingham, who achieved major commercial success in the early to mid-1980s. They are best known in the UK for their songs "Come On Eileen" and "Geno", both of which peaked at No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, as well as six other top-20 singles. "Come On Eileen" also topped the US Billboard Hot 100, and with extensive airplay on MTV they are associated with the Second British Invasion.

The Blue Ox Babes were an English pop group, formed in early 1981 by the former Dexys Midnight Runners guitarist Kevin 'Al' Archer, together with his girlfriend Yasmin Saleh, guitarist Nick Bache and former Dexys keyboard player Andy Leek. Archer was keen to mix the soul sounds of his previous group with folk styles. To this end he recruited fiddle player Helen O'Hara to play on demo tapes of the new songs he had written. When former colleague Kevin Rowland heard these demo tapes, he invited O'Hara to join Dexys, and adopted a similarly folk-influenced sound for his own group.

The Bureau were a new wave soul group formed in November 1980 in Birmingham, England, when the original lineup of Dexys Midnight Runners split-up. The Bureau retained their Dexys roots and played powerful brass-driven soul sounds.

Come On Eileen 1982 song by Dexys Midnight Runners

"Come On Eileen" is a song by English group Dexys Midnight Runners, released in the United Kingdom on 25 June 1982 as a single from their album Too-Rye-Ay. It reached number one in the United States, and it was their second number one hit in the UK, following 1980's "Geno". The song was initially claimed to be written by Kevin Rowland, Jim Paterson and Billy Adams, and it was produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, although Rowland later stated that the essence of the tune should be attributed to Kevin Archer.

Kevin "Al" Archer is an English guitarist and songwriter.

Helen O'Hara is a British musician, formerly a member and violinist of the band Dexys Midnight Runners between 1982 and 1987, including performing on songs such as "Come on Eileen" from the Too-Rye-Ay album.

<i>Searching for the Young Soul Rebels</i> 1980 studio album by Dexys Midnight Runners

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels is the debut studio album by English pop group Dexys Midnight Runners, released on 11 July 1980, through EMI Records. Led by Kevin Rowland, the group formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, and formed a strong live reputation before recording their first material. Recorded during April 1980, the album combines the aggressiveness of punk rock with soul music, particularly influenced by the Northern soul movement.

<i>Too-Rye-Ay</i> 1982 studio album by Dexys Midnight Runners

Too-Rye-Ay is the second studio album by English pop band Dexys Midnight Runners, released in July 1982 by Mercury Records. The album is best known for the hit single "Come On Eileen", which included the lyrics "too-rye-ay" that inspired the album's title. It was the band's most successful album, debuting at number two on the UK Albums Chart.

<i>Dont Stand Me Down</i> 1985 studio album by Dexys Midnight Runners

Don't Stand Me Down is the third studio album by English pop band Dexys Midnight Runners, released in September 1985 by Mercury Records. The title of the album was inspired by a line in the album's song "The Waltz".

You Wear It Well 1972 single by Rod Stewart

"You Wear It Well" is a song written by Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton, performed by Stewart. It uses an arrangement markedly similar to that of "Maggie May", one of Stewart's hits from the previous year.

Geno (song) 1980 single by Dexys Midnight Runners

"Geno" is a 1980 single by Dexys Midnight Runners. Written by Kevin Archer and Kevin Rowland, it was the band's second single and their first UK number one, staying at the top of the Singles Chart for two weeks. The song charted at number two in Ireland.

<i>My Beauty</i> 1999 studio album by Kevin Rowland

My Beauty is a solo album by Kevin Rowland, lead singer of Dexys Midnight Runners. It was first released in 1999, eleven years after his solo debut The Wanderer. In the interim he had experienced problems with drug addiction. My Beauty is an album of cover songs, although Rowland rewrote several of the lyrics to reflect his battles against substance abuse. The album is notorious for its cover, which shows Rowland in drag and heavy make up, an image which Rowland also used during contemporaneous appearances at the Glastonbury and Reading festivals. During his appearance at Reading he was pelted with bottles thrown by the audience.

Jackie Wilson Said (Im in Heaven When You Smile) 1972 single by Van Morrison

"Jackie Wilson Said " is a song written and performed by Van Morrison and featured as the opening track on his sixth studio album, Saint Dominic's Preview. It was released by Warner Bros. in July 1972 as the first of three singles from the album and charted at number sixty-one on the US Billboard Hot 100. Both the music and lyrics are inspired by rhythm and blues singer Jackie Wilson and his song "Reet Petite", which is directly quoted in the song.

Dance Stance 1979 single by Dexys Midnight Runners

"Dance Stance" is the first single by Dexys Midnight Runners. It reached #40 on the UK Singles Chart in early 1980.

The Killjoys were a punk band from Birmingham, England, formed in 1976, with members including Kevin Rowland and Kevin "Al" Archer, who would later form Dexys Midnight Runners, and Ghislaine "Gil" Weston, who would later join Girlschool. Although their releases while still together were limited to one single, subsequent interest has seen an album of their recordings released.

There, There, My Dear 1980 single by Dexys Midnight Runners

"There, There, My Dear" is a song by English pop band Dexys Midnight Runners, released in June 1980 as the second and final single from their debut album Searching for the Young Soul Rebels. It peaked at number 7 on the UK Singles Chart.

The Celtic Soul Brothers

"The Celtic Soul Brothers" is a song written by Mickey Billingham, Jimmy Paterson and Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners.

<i>The Very Best of Dexys Midnight Runners</i> 1991 compilation album by Dexys Midnight Runners

The Very Best of Dexys Midnight Runners is a best of compilation album by Dexys Midnight Runners. The album contained seven Dexys singles that had also been album tracks but was more notable as the first album to contain ten of Dexys' non-album singles, including "Let's Get This Straight ", "Because Of You", "Show Me", "One Way Love", "Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache", "Dance Stance", "Keep It Part Two ", "I'm Just Looking", "Soon", and "Soul Finger"), plus the original recordings of two more. "One Way Love" was the only Dexys song with Kevin Archer as the lead vocalist. The tracks covered Dexys' entire career, shown by the fact that, although the album was released on Mercury Records, 9 of the album's 19 songs were recorded for EMI Records, Dexys' first label.

Let's Make This Precious: The Best of Dexys Midnight Runners is a best-of compilation album by Dexys Midnight Runners, which also contained two newly recorded songs by the group, "Manhood" and "My Life in England ". Dexys had broken up in early 1987, and these two songs, recorded in 2003, were the first new Dexys material since the single "Because of You" in 1986. Nevertheless, the album was similar to the 1991 compilation The Very Best of Dexys Midnight Runners, as eleven of the sixteen older Dexys songs on it had also been included on that album. However, to record the two new songs, Rowland put together a new version of Dexys that featured prior members Pete Williams and Mick Talbot (keyboards) plus new members such as Lucy Morgan (viola) and Neil Hubbard (guitar), and the reformed band played a series of live concerts later in 2003.

Let the Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul is a 2016 album by Dexys, the band formerly known as Dexys Midnight Runners. The album includes interpretations of Irish songs and other select compositions. It reached number 10 in the UK Albums Chart on 10 June 2016.


  1. Michaels, Sean (13 February 2012). "Dexys Midnight Runners to release first new album in 27 years". The Guardian . Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  2. Simpson, Dave (24 August 2007). "Interview: Kevin Rowland and The Proclaimers". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  3. "Dexys' Kevin Rowland talks to The Works Presents". RTE News. 7 October 2016.
  4. Thomson, Gordon (2 November 2003). "My team: Kevin Rowland on Wolverhampton Wanderers". The Observer . Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  5. Reed, John. "A Tale of Two Kevins". Record Collector. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  6. Haslam, Dave (March 2010). "Kevin Rowland interview". Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  7. "DJ Kevin Rowland: Man Of Many Hats: Star and Garter, Manchester - live review - Louder Than War". Louder Than War. 24 May 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  8. Jonze, Tim (21 July 2020). "Kevin Rowland on the My Beauty furore: 'I wasn't cracking up. I just wanted to wear a dress'". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  11. Moody, Paul, Uncut, March 2007, p.10.
  12. "The Official Charts Company - Kevin Rowland". Official Charts Company . Retrieved 16 December 2010.