Dexys Midnight Runners (currently officially Dexys, their former nickname, styled without an apostrophe) are an English pop band with soul influences, who achieved their major 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.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dexys went through numerous personnel changes over the course of three albums and 13 singles, with only singer/songwriter/co-founder Kevin Rowland remaining in the band through all of the transitions and only Rowland and “Big” Jim Paterson (trombone) appearing on all of the albums. By 1985, the band consisted only of Rowland and long-standing members Helen O’Hara (violin) and Billy Adams (guitar). The band broke up in 1987, with Rowland becoming a solo artist. After two failed restart attempts, Dexys was reformed by Rowland in 2003 with new members, as well as a few returning members from the band’s original lineup (known as Dexys Mark I).
Alongside Rowland and former Midnight Runners, Mick Talbot and Pete Williams (this time featuring as a joint lead vocalist), violinist Lucy Morgan, guitarist Neil Hubbard, bass player Julian Crampton, drummer Crispin Taylor, keyboard man Volker Janssen and ex-Bureau trombonist Paul Taylor made up the latest incarnation of Dexys Midnight Runners. An almost inevitable hiatus followed this flurry of activity with constant rumours that new material was in the pipe-line which would see Dexys return once more. These rumours seemed to be confirmed when Kevin Rowland announced on Radio 2 that Dexys were back in the studio working on a new album in June 2005 but all that emerged at the time was a demo entitled “It’s OK, Johanna” which featured on Kevin Rowland’s ‘My Space’ webpage.
Finally – after another delay lasting longer than the career of most groups – a Dexys line-up featuring Kevin Rowland, Pete Williams, Mick Talbot, Lucy Morgan and Big Jimmy Paterson returned in May 2012 with a series of live shows previewing material from their new album “One Day I’m Going To Soar”. The shows, which introduced new recruit Madeleine Hyland as co-vocalist and Kevin Rowland’s “love interest” on several songs, were greeted by standing ovations and five-star reviews. The subsequent album, including reworkings of songs created for Dexys’ aborted return in the early 90s alongside more recent compositions, received a similarly enthusiastic response from fans and critics upon its release on June 4th. Improbably or inevitably – but undeniably – Dexys were back!
For once Dexys didn’t “do a runner” after this latest return and followed the album’s release with extensive touring and festival appearances – including their debut at Glastonbury. The theatrical live performances were subsequently captured for release on the album and DVD, “Nowhere Is Home”. A film of the same name was also produced and was screened at Vue Cinemas around the country before gaining its television premiere on the BBC. Eventually in June 2016 a newly recorded selection of cover versions, “Let The Record Show Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul” was released. This album, based on an abandoned plan from the mid-Eighties to release a collection of Celtic compositions called “Irish”, became a commercial hit, reaching the top-ten of the album charts and gaining wide-spread air-play and coverage in the media. This time it seems as though Dexys might actually be back to stay!