Kevin Rowland of Dexys recalls accusing David Bowie of being a poor imitation of Bryan Ferry

Kevin Rowland, frontman of Dexys Midnight Runners, was recently included in NME’s ‘Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!’, in which artists are asked questions about themselves to test their memory. Rowland was questioned in the interview if he remembered who he branded a terrible imitation of Bryan Ferry in a 1983 show. The frontman correctly identified David Bowie as the answer. The band initially mistook the audience’s chants and applause for their own. Rowland elaborated: “We were about five songs into our 12-song set and things were going well, and I could hear the applause echoing back in this massive open-air venue.” After each song, around 50 people in the front started chanting and waving their fists in the air, and I thought to myself, ‘This is amazing! They’re all over it!” The cries were apparently not for his band, but for David Bowie. He recalled his disappointment and stated: “I thought they were chanting in French, so I approached drummer Seb [Shelton] and asked, ‘What are they saying?'” ‘They’re chanting ‘Bowie! Bowie! Bowie!’ at you,’ he said. So I just blew it! I was quite dissatisfied. Because, aside from this 50 individuals at the front, who were all half-naked, muddy, and dressed like hippies – not what you’d think of as Bowie fans,”

The frontman eventually understood what he had caused after accusing Bowie of mimicking someone else. He elaborated: “So I approached them and said something like, ‘You’ve been sitting in a f*cking field all day in a load of mud waiting for f*cking David Bowie!'” He’s basically a poor man’s Bryan Ferry!’ The plugs were yanked just as we were about to begin the next song. Bowie had heard it from the back of the stage. We were meant to perform two nights, but they wouldn’t let us return for the second.” Rowland attempted to contact Bowie about the matter after many years. He then detailed what happened: “Apparently, Bowie was furious about it. Many years later, when I was in recovery from cocaine addiction, I wrote him a letter apologizing and asking him to contact me if he ever wanted to talk about it. I know he received the mail, but I haven’t heard back. But that’s fine.”

Rowland explained the explanation for his on-stage behavior at the start of his response to the same question: “No one has ever asked me about it before. We were escorted out of the area! I’d been taking powerful sleeping pills that had been given by a private New York doctor. I was grumpy and didn’t give a damn about anything whenever I took them.” Rowland reportedly told the British press that they decided to participate in the show solely for the marketing. He stated: “We agreed to the show because France is an important market for us, not because I admire David Bowie.” Dexys will begin their tour on September 5, and tickets can be purchased here.

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