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Dexys Midnight Runners Biography

Home > Music > D > Dexys Midnight Runners > Biography

Birth Place: Birmingham, England
Years Active: 1978–1986, 2003–present
Genres: Pop, Soul, New Wave

Dexys Midnight Runners is an English pop group founded in 1978 in Birmingham, England by Kevin Rowland (vocals, guitar) and Kevin "Al" Archer (vocals, guitar), both previously of the Killjoys. The band was named after the drug Dexedrine. The duo recruited “Big” Jim Paterson on trombone, Geoff “JB” Blythe on saxophone, Steve “Babyface” Spooner on alto saxophone, Pete Saunders on keyboard, Pete Williams on bass and Bobby Ward on drums.

Dexys Midnight Runners’ debut single, “Dance Stance,” arrived in 1979. The original line-up released their second single, “Geno,” on EMI Records in 1980 and followed up with their debut album, “Searching for the Young Soul Rebels,” later that same year. “Geno” went on to reach #1 on the U.K. Singles chart. The album spurred the single, “There, There, My Dear,” which generated moderate success, however the next single was a failure and the majority of the band members quit the band.

Paterson stayed with Rowland, and Billy Adams joined on guitar and banjo, Seb Shelton on drums, Micky Billingham on keyboards, Brian Maurice on alto saxophone, Paul Speare on tenor saxophone and Steve Wynne on bass. Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ next hit, “Show Me,” arrived in 1981 and peaked at #16 on the U.K. Singles chart.

Next, Rowland recruited fiddle players Helen O'Hara, Steve Brennan, and Roger MacDuff, and bass player Giorgio Kilkenny to join the band. This line-up recorded their second album, “Too-Rye-Ay,” in 1982, which showcased a hybrid sound of soul fused with Celtic folk. The first single, “The Celtic Soul Brothers,” peaked at #45 on the U.K. Singles chart. However, it was their next single, “Come On Eileen,” that would gain the band international success. “Come On Eileen” became their second #1 album in the U.K. and also went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in the United States.

The band’s third LP, “Don't Stand Me Down,” emerged in 1985. However, after the failure of the first single off the album, “This Is What She's Like,” the then current line-up once again disbanded. Rowland pursued a solo career throughout the remainder of the 1980s, achieving moderate success. The 1990s saw Rowland fall into drug addiction.

2003 marked a new incarnation of the group as a six-piece called Dexys, consisting of Rowland on vocals, Paterson on trombone, Williams on bass and vocals and Lucy Morgan on violin. A greatest hits album arrived, “Let's Make This Precious,” that same year followed by a successful tour. 2012 saw Rowland back in the studio working on a fourth album, “One Day I'm Going to Soar.” The first single from the album was “She Got a Wiggle.”