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East 17
Genres Pop, dance and Europop
Years active 1992–1997, 1998-1999, 2006–present
Labels London Records
Website http://www.eastseventeen.co.uk
Members
Brian Harvey, John Hendy and Terry Coldwell
Former members
Tony Mortimer

East 17 are an English pop boy band formed in 1992. The group achieved 18 Top 20 singles and four Top 10 albums and were one of the famous boy bands along with Take That from the United Kingdom during the early to mid 1990s. They occasionally blended rap and pop in songs such as "House of Love", "Steam" and "Let It Rain", attaining popularity as a result of the groups songwriter Tony Mortimer and lead vocalist Brian Harvey.

Contents

Career

The band began in 1992 when Mortimer was promised a record deal after he showcased his own material. The deal was granted under the condition that he form a group, which was the format London Records were looking for. The original roles in the band were soon altered when Brian Harvey, who was intended to be a back-up singer and dancer, was heard singing along during a recording session. He was duly promoted to lead vocalist. The group's other members are Terence Coldwell and John Hendy.

Mortimer wrote the vast majority of the group's songs, which often contained rap verses vocalized by him to complement Harvey's more fluid R&B style vocals. The group was usually seen as a grittier, more political and hip-hop or rap-aligned group than rival boy band Take That, as noted by Guy Adams of The Independent;[1]

They shaved their heads, and had tattoos, and were a lot, lot cooler than the nancy boys of Take That. In the great five-year battle that dominated British pop, East 17 were also on the winning side. Their music was sharper and more streetwise. It was infused with hip-hop and R&B, and sold by the bucketload: 20 million records across Europe, compared with Take That's paltry 19 million.

East 17 scored 12 Top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart between 1992 and 1998.[2 ] Their debut album, Walthamstow, shot to #1 on the UK Albums Chart. It featured a string of Top 20 singles, including "House of Love" and "Deep". "It's Alright" became a major success in Australia, reaching #1 in early 1994 for 7 weeks in a row and #3 in the UK in 1993. The lyrics to some of their songs, such as "Let It Rain", had political undertones, talking about war, peace, equality, love, and other political issues. Their popularity reached Mongolia, particularly with the song "It's Alright", helped by music television channels, Channel V and MTV.

In 1994, upon the release of their second album, Steam, they scored their only UK number-one single with "Stay Another Day", which remained at the top for five weeks and was also that year's Christmas number-one. Following the somewhat low-key release of the next album, Up All Night, their drop in appeal became apparent compared to previous albums. The album's songwriting duties were split among the four members of the group, rather than Mortimer alone, although all of the singles released from the album were penned by him.

East 17 also appeared on the Childliners record The Gift Of Christmas, alongside acts such as MN8, Boyzone, E.Y.C., Sean Maguire, Deuce, Ultimate Kaos, Let Loose, Backstreet Boys, Peter Andre, Michelle Gayle and Dannii Minogue amongst others. In 1996, the group hit #2 with the track "If You Ever", a duet with the singer Gabrielle.

In 1997, Harvey was engulfed in a drug-related controversy when he claimed that he took 12 Ecstasy pills in one night, stating that "(i)t's cool to take drugs" and claiming that Ecstasy "can make you a better person". The act went against the group's "boy band" image, and there was a huge media uproar, leading to questions being raised by John Major in the House of Commons.[1] With the group's career and reputation tarnished by the affair, Harvey was sacked and Mortimer decided to leave several months later, due to creative differences between himself and the rest of the group. The band's split in 1997 has been described as "one of the greatest break-ups in pop history".[1]

Coldwell and Hendy later reinstated Harvey and attempted a comeback in 1998 renaming the group "E-17" and landed a record deal with Telstar Records after recording an album's worth of self-written material in their home studios. Their first single was "Each Time," which reached #2 in the UK. But without Mortimer's songwriting influence, the group's initial success soon wavered, and after disappointing sales of the next single "Betcha Can't Wait" reaching just number 12 in the charts, and their album Resurrection failing to make the UK top 40 and not selling as much as the record company would have liked, the band were dropped by their label in 1999 and subsequently split up.

East 17 performance in Sibiu, Romania, 2007 New Year's Eve.

In 2001, Harvey launched himself as a solo artist in a collaboration with Wyclef Jean on the Top 20 single "Loving You (Ole Ole Ole)", but returned to East 17 to perform numerous gigs on the nostalgia circuit with Coldwell and Hendy. On the ITV1 docusoap Redcoats, the group were shown performing at a gig that was held at Butlins in Bognor on a bill which also featured Keith Harris, whilst in 2005, Harvey, Coldwell and Hendy performed a gig as E-17 in Mongolia.

Mortimer attempted to create two bands of his own, but each time opted to return to production work for other artists from his Essex-based studio. He also recorded his own solo material, released in January 2006 on his now defunct, official website.

Brian Harvey made the news in May 2005 when he accidentally ran himself over, and required surgical treatment.[3 ] He suffered severe, life-threatening injuries as a result, falling into a coma for several weeks following the incident.[3 ]

On February 4, 2006, Harvey appeared on the UK television music show CD:UK, where he announced that East 17 might make a comeback with the original four members. In mid-February 2006, the group reformed. They played their first concert since reformation on May 30 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London.

After reforming for the one-off gig, it was reported that East 17 had split up again, since Hendy was unable to fully commit to the band because his roofing business took up a lot of his time. Friction also flared up again between Harvey and Mortimer, who were "involved in a punch-up",[1] resulting in the latter's departure, with the remaining members continuing to perform as a three-piece at various club events.[1] A Channel 4 documentary, East 17:The Reunion, which charted the group's rise and fall, along with their subsequent attempt to re-launch, was broadcast in May 2007.[1]

East 17 continue to perform as a three-member group without Mortimer. They played at the University of Strathclyde on September 24, 2006, after DJ Colin Murray was unable to attend. Since then, the group has performed in clubs around the UK. A new single, "Fuck That" was due to be released in early 2008 but was ultimately cancelled. Here is the 2008 single, East 17 - Fuck That. [1]

The group performed at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival on Thursday, 25th June in the dance hall.

In November 2009 all the members of the band re-united again for the 'Wild and Free' charity organisation at the Royal Albert Hall in front of 5,000 people playing two of their best known songs "Deep" and "Stay Another Day". After the aforementioned get-together, the band agreed that it would be best if they never sang together again. However, according to a Radio 2 interview with Zoe Ball in December 2009, songwriter Tony Mortimer mentioned that the band are on 'talking terms' and are planning a comeback for 2010.

Discography

References

External links








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