Steve Harley (born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice, 27 February 1951,[1 ] Deptford, London, England) is an English singer and songwriter, best known for his work with the 1970s rock group Cockney Rebel,[1 ] with whom he still occasionally tours (albeit with many personnel changes through the years).
As a child, Harley suffered from polio, spending four years in hospital up to the age of 16. It was in hospital that he first heard Bob Dylan, inspiring him to a career of words and music. At the age of 10, he received a guitar from his parents, and he played violin with the school orchestra. He left the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College with no O levels.
In 1968, at the age of 17, Harley began work as an accountant with the Daily Express, from which he progressed to become a reporter in a number of local Essex newspapers for a duration of three years. Later, he returned to London to work for the East London Advertiser.
Harley started out playing in bars and clubs in the early 1970s, mainly at folk venues on open-mike nights. He also busked around London on the Underground and in Portobello Road. While auditioning for folk band Odin in 1971, he met violinist John Crocker, with whom he formed Cockney Rebel in late 1972.[1 ]
Cockney Rebel went on to release The Human Menagerie and The Psychomodo before splitting up in 1974. However, Harley carried on with drummer Stuart Elliot, renaming the band Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel, with whom he had more success. From the next album, The Best Years of Our Lives, came the number one and million selling single, "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)".
Harley had two more hits during the mid 1970s with "Mr Raffles" and "Here Comes the Sun" which were both Top 20 hits, but he did not have any further major successes, and in the 1980s he all but faded from the public eye, relocating to the United States. He was set to star as the Phantom in the London premiere of The Phantom of the Opera, and recorded the promotional single of the title song, but was surprised to be replaced close to rehearsals by Michael Crawford.[1 ]
In the early 1990s, Harley released several solo albums. His songs "Sebastian", "Tumbling Down", and "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" were included in the Todd Haynes 1998 rock musical Velvet Goldmine. The soundtrack album included "Make Me Smile", but omitted "Sebastian", yet included a cover version of "Tumbling Down" with vocals by Jonathan Rhys Myers. "Make Me Smile" was also included in the 1997 film, The Full Monty.
In 1999, Harley began presenting a BBC Radio programme The Sounds of the Seventies, of which the last programme aired on 27 March 2008.
In 2005, The Quality of Mercy was released under the Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel name, and Harley began touring more frequently, although mainstream success remained elusive.[1 ]
Harley lives in Suffolk with his wife, Dorothy. They have two children, Kerr and Greta.
|“||I set out to be a
winner. I don't want to lose. I spent four years in a hospital but
I never expected favours from anyone.
I don't give sympathy because I don't expect it. Nice guys don't make it.