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Steve Harley, frontman of rock band Cockney Rebel, dies


Steve Harley, best known as frontman for rock band Cockney Rebel, has died aged 73.

The English singer and songwriter, best known for the 1970s hit Make Me Smile, was receiving treatment for cancer.

“We are devastated to announce that our wonderful husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully at home, with his family by his side,” his wife, Dorothy, and children, Kerr and Greta, said in a statement. communicated.

Undated photo released by That Was Then...This Is Now of Steve Harley performing as part of the new show, an on-demand online television music show featuring performances and Q&As with various artists.
Photo: PA

“The birdsong of his beloved forest sang to him. His home was filled with the sounds and laughter of his four beloved grandchildren.

“Stephen. Steve. Dad. Grandar. Steve Harley. Whatever name you know him by, his heart exuded only the essentials. Passion, kindness, generosity and so much more, in abundance.

“Steve was extremely comforted by the well-wishes from all his fans during his fight, and we know he would like to thank you all deeply for your love and support throughout his career and during his fight to the end. “

Harley’s family said they knew the singer would be “desperately missed by countless friends, family members and devoted fans around the world.”

As well as Make Me Smile, which went to number one in the UK charts in 1975, Cockney Rebel’s hits include Here Comes The Sun, Mr Raffles (Man, It Was Mean), Love’s A Prima Donna and Judy Teen.

Earlier this year, Harley was forced to declare that he would not be able to commit to any concerts in 2024 due to health concerns.

It previously canceled shows scheduled for the spring and fall of this year.

In a Facebook post in December, when announcing his cancer diagnosis, he said the cancellation of shows was “heartbreaking” and gave an update on his treatment.

Pop singer and writer Steve Harley Steve Harley (born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice on 27 February 1951 in Deptford London, England) is an English singer and songwriter best known for his work with the 1970s rock group Cockney Rebel with whom he still tours occasionally (although with many staff changes over the years).  June 24, 1974 Photographer David Stevens/ANL/Shutterstock
Steve Harley in 1974. Photo: David Stevens/ANL/Shutterstock

He also thanked fans for their support and “touching messages”, adding: “It means more than I can say.”

Scottish musician Midge Ure hailed Harley as a “true ‘working musician'” in a tribute this afternoon.

Ure, who produced Harley’s 1982 track I Can’t Even Touch You, said in a social media post: “Steve Harley was a true ‘working musician.’

“He toured until he couldn’t tour anymore, playing his songs for fans old and new.

“My thoughts are with Dorothy and her family at this very sad time. Our songs live on longer than we ever can.”

File photo dated 17/11/16 of Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel during a recording of a charity single for the JO Cox Foundation at the Backstage Center in Purfleet, Essex.  Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley has died peacefully at home aged 73, his family has announced.  Publication date: Sunday March 17, 2024.
Steve Harley in 2016 while recording a charity single for the Jo Cox Foundation. Photo: PA

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly also said she “loved his music” and recalled watching the band as a teenager as she paid tribute to them.

Meanwhile, singer-songwriter Mike Batt, who has worked with Harley on several songs, described the musician as a “dear friend” and a “lovely guy”.

The duo worked together on tracks including 1983’s Ballerina (Prima Donna) and were joined by Yes singer Jon Anderson for the 1988 charity single What You Believe.

“Oh no! My dear friend, Steve Harley is dead,” Batt posted on X.

“I just learned about it on Twitter. I was writing about him yesterday in my autobiography.

“What a talent. What a character. What a lovely guy. My condolences to Dorothy and all. RIP, buddy.”

Born in south-east London in 1951, he spent almost four years in hospital as a child after contracting polio.

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He joined the Daily Express as a trainee accountant at the age of 17 before working as a journalist for several regional newspapers including the East London Advertiser.

Cockney Rebel began in the early 1970s in London after Harley spent several years performing in the city’s folk clubs.

The band – after undergoing several line-up changes – released their debut studio album, The Human Menagerie, in 1973 and followed it with The Psychomodo in 1994, which reached number eight in the UK charts.

File photo dated 26/02/75 of Steve Harley (centre) and Cockney Rebel, when they topped the best-selling pop charts with "Make me smile (Come see me)", at London's Heathrow Airport upon their arrival from America and a two-week tour of one-night stands.  Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley has died peacefully at home aged 73, his family has announced.  Publication date: Sunday March 17, 2024.
Steve Harley (centre) and Cockney Rebel in 1975. Photo: PA

The band regrouped and changed their name to Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel and it was under this moniker that they released a series of albums, including The Best Years Of Our Lives in 1975, which peaked at the fourth place.

Their biggest hit, Make Me Smile, sold approximately 1.5 million copies and was covered more than 120 times, including by Robbie Williams and Duran Duran, according to official charts, and was also featured in movies like The Full Monty.

Harley also had a solo career from 1977 and wrote for other artists, including his friend Sir Rod Stewart.

He then presented the BBC Radio 2 show Sounds Of The 70s from 1999 to 2008.

Helen Thomas, director of BBC Radio 2, said: “All of us at Radio 2 are saddened to learn of the death of former Sounds Of The 70s presenter Steve Harley. We send our condolences to his family and our presenters pay their respects. tribute to him on the air.”


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