Jocky Wilson said...
Kevin Rowland, leader of the ever changing line-up of Dexys Midnight Runners, has made more than his fair share of bizarre decisions over the years, many of which have gone on to achieve almost legendary status with the band's fans. Dexys first appeared on TOTP in January 1980 to promote their debut minor hit "Dance Stance", although this was quickly overshadowed when their next single "Geno" hit number one. This sudden success prompted Rowland and his merry band to attempt to negiotiate a better deal with their record label, EMI, although their chosen method of "negotiation" was to steal the master tapes of their debut album "Searching For The Young Soul Rebels" and hold them to ransom.
Following the album's eventual release the band hit a fallow period, during which they changed record label, personnel, sound and image, resurfacing in 1982 with another chart topper, the perennial "Come On Eileen". Their next single release, a cover of Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)" was another top five smash and necessitated another TOTP appearance.
This is where the story becomes hazy. It is a widely held belief that the producer decided it would be appropriate to display a photo of the titular Wilson on a huge screen on the background while the band played, so a TOTP minion was duly despatched to find a an appropriate photo. However, so the story goes, the minion had never heard of Jackie Wilson and instead returned with a photo of 1982 World Darts Champion Jocky Wilson. Apparently nobody bothered to check the photo, and so the band performed a tribute to an American soul singer against an enormous backdrop of a corpulent pasty-faced Scotsman.
It's a great story, but there's just one tiny flaw: surely someone, somewhere in Television Centre would have noticed it was the wrong Wilson before it was too late - the two were hardly separated at birth, after all. It must have been a joke, but at the expense of the notoriously touchy Kevin Rowland? He was known for his intense distrust of the media. Surely he wouldn't have gone along with it, unless he was in on the joke to begin with, but that didn't seem to be his style - Rowland took (and still takes) his music very seriously, often far too seriously for many people's liking.
The confusion was finally put to rest in July 2006 when Kevin Rowland spoke to Record Collector magazine about the demise of TOTP, and particularly the Jocky Wilson incident. "It's gone down in history as a BBC cock-up, but it wasn't," Rowland confirmed. "It was our idea, our joke. Would we really have walked onto a set which featured a 10-foot picture of a fat darts player and not noticed? It was just an extension from our own rehearsals where we'd always refer to the song as 'Jocky Wilson Said'."
So it was a joke after all, and a useful one at that - everyone remembers Dexys and "Jackie Wilson Said", even if not for the reasons Kevin Rowland would prefer. Rowland would go on to make several more eccentric career moves, including releasing a solo album of cover versions in a sleeve which depicted him wearing what he would claim was "a man's dress", before reforming Dexys in 2003 with yet another new line-up. Interestingly, the last Dexys Midnight Runners hit, 1986's "Because Of You", entered the chart in the same month as a reissue of Jackie Wilson's "Reet Petite". The latter went on to become the 1986 Christmas number one, but thanks to the innovative claymation video produced to promote the song, Jocky's services were not required.