Steve Harley dies aged 73


Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley has died of cancer, it has been announced.

London-born Harley formed formed Cockney Rebel in the early 1970s. The band – consisting of Harley, Jean-Paul Crocker, drummer Stuart Elliott, bassist Paul Jeffreys and guitarist Nick Jones – released two albums, The Human Menagerie (1973) and The Psychomodo (1974).

The band fell apart but was rebuilt by Harley as ‘Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel’ with Stuart Elliott the only musician remaining from the original line up. The first album under this new moniker was The Best Years of Our Lives (1975) which featured the song that Harley is best known for, the UK chart topper ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)’. The band recorded just two more albums and had two further top 20 singles before calling it a day in 1977, when Harley embarked on a solo career. Steve would occasionally put together new line-ups of Cockney Rebel in later years for touring purposes, but 2005’s The Quality of Mercy was the only other studio album to bear the name.

Harley’s last brush with the UK top 10 was in 1986 with ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, a duet with Sarah Brightman. Harley was all set to play the role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical but after five months of rehearsal he was replaced by Michael Crawford.

In later years there were plenty of successful tours, well-received albums and reissues but the commercial success of the 1970s was never repeated.

Rest in Peace, Steve Harley.

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