Kevin Antony Rowland (born 17 August 1953) is an English singer-songwriter and frontman for the pop band Dexys Midnight Runners (currently called Dexys), which had several hits in the early 1980s, the most notable being "Geno" and "Come On Eileen".
Rowland was born in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, England on 17 August 1953 to Irish parents from Crossmolina, Co. Mayo. 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.
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 the critically acclaimed One Day I'm Going to Soar accompanied by a sold out UK tour. The album was hailed as a tour de force by fans and music critics alike.
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."
I never did feel like a star. I was always uptight about something and uncomfortable and not very good. I felt weighed down by it, the pressure. It's terrible I should have enjoyed it but I didn't; I was thinking about what we should do all the time, I wasn't able to run with it.
I did loads of stupid things, like the way I used to argue with EMI Records. I just look back to the time now and wonder how I would have reacted to some prick coming into my office shouting and kicking things.