Born Wolverhampton, England. Rowland's 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 Go To Heaven" in 1977. Alienated by the punk scene, Rowland, together with Killjoys guitarist, Al Archer, decided to form a new soul influenced group, Dexys Midnight Runners.
When Dexys disbanded in 1987, Rowland recorded a solo album called 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. This album was also a commercial and artistic failure.
In 2003, Rowland reformed Dexys Midnight Runners and embarked on a successful comeback tour backed up with a greatest hits album including two newly recorded songs, "Manhood" and "My Life in England". Both of these new songs were touted as new singles but, despite airplay on national radio, neither was commercially released.