Let’s celebrate Dexy’s Midnight Runners 1982 classic “Come On Eileen” and ask where are they now?
It topped the chart in the UK (1.4m million copies sold), it topped the chart in America, it topped the chart in Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Switzerland and nearly forty years later, it’s still being played in clubs, pubs and student parties the world over. This is Dexy’s Midnight Runners and the force of “Come On Eileen”!
You wouldn’t perhaps think so, but Dexy’s have recorded other songs! It seems, however, that their 1982 track “Come On Eileen” has found its way into the world’s conscience and continues to do so. Indeed, two years earlier, the group had topped the UK singles chart with “Geno” and made No.7 with “There, There My Dear” later that year.
Formed in Birmingham in 1978, their debut single “Dance Stance” reached the UK top 40 in 1979 prior to “Geno” topping the chart. The lineup has changed many times each year since then, and in fact there have been a total of 55 members of the group since its inception forty years ago! The one consistent presence being frontman and vocalist Kevin Rowland throughout this whole time.
The group released their debut album “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” in 1980 which made No.6 in the UK and No.11 in New Zealand. In 1981 they released the singles “Plan B” and “Show Me” (UK No.16), although neither of these featured on any long player’s till a greatest hits release in the early-1990’s. Their second studio album “Too-Rye-Ay” came in early 1982 and featured the singles “Liars A To E” and “The Celtic Soul Brothers” (UK No.45).
But it would be the album’s third single “Come On Eileen” released in June 1982 that would seal the groups fame, worldwide, forever. The video was filmed in and around Kennington in London and the role of ‘Eileen’ is played by actress and singer Marie Fahey, sister of Siobhan ‘Bananarama‘ Fahey! The success of the single sent “Too-Rye-Ay” to No.2 in the UK and No.14 in The States, becoming by far their biggest selling ’33’ by a long distance.
Dexy’s followed this with “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)” which made the top 5 in the UK and re-issued “The Celtic Soul Brothers”, this time making the UK top twenty. Another non-album single, “Let’s Get This Straight (From The Start)”, was released at the end of 1982 reaching No.17 in the UK.
But no sooner had the group topped the world, decline and fall soon followed. Their third album “Don’t Stand Me Down” failed to make the top twenty and its lead single “This Is What She’s Like” reached No.78 in the UK in 1985. A further single “Because Of You” made No.13 the following year but the group downed tools in 1987, seemingly for good.
With the exception of a “Best Of” in 1991 (UK No.12), that silence lasted until 2003 when Kevin and a new set of musicians reformed and began touring with huge success. And that has continued to this day, and true to form, with continued line up changes virtually every year since! Why break with tradition?!