Cockney Rebel frontman, Steve Harley, has died

Steve Harley

Photos: Steve Harley

In February, Steve Harley posted on his Facebook page that, “Due to on-going treatment for cancer Steve cannot commit to any concerts in 2024. Steve is hoping next year will be altogether different”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and the singer and guitarist of Cockney Rebel sadly died today, Sunday March 17 having succumbed to cancer.

Born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice in Deptford south London in 1951, Steve Harley was a British singer, guitarist and songwriter who had success with the group Cockney Rebel in the 1970s.

Words and music

Due to a childhood illness, Steve spent almost four years in hospital between the ages of 3 and 16, undergoing major surgery in 1963 and 1966. Aged 12, while in hospital recovering from surgery, Steve was first introduced to the poetry of Eliot and Lawrence, the prose of Steinbeck, Woolf and Hemingway, and the music of Bob Dylan and realised that his life was going to be all about words and music.

Harley was working as a journalist when he formed the band Cockney Rebel in 1972 with guitarist and violinist Jean-Paul Crocker, bassist Paul Jeffreys and drummer Stuart Elliott.

They hit the big time in 1975 with the single ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)’ which has been covered more than 100 times and recorded in seven languages. The band enjoyed success with the album ‘The Best Years Of Our Lives’ and the following year saw the band’s last big hit, a version of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’, but after three albums they disbanded in 1977.

Charity performances

Among those who have benefited from Steve’s charity performances have been: Chailey Heritage School For Handicapped Children; Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Charity; The Bridge Project (for those with learning difficulties) and Guitars Against Landmines. Steve was an Ambassador for the Mines Advisory Group for several years and led two treks, one around Cambodia and another across Death Valley, to help raise funds towards landmine clearance.

The official announcement of his death on the official Facebook reads: “We are devastated to announce that our wonderful Husband and Father has passed away peacefully at home, with his family by his side. The birdsong from his woodland that he loved so much was singing for him. Steve took enormous comfort from all of his fans’ well wishes during his battle, and would want to thank you all deeply for your love and support throughout his career”.

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.


    • Lin

      17 March 2024 • 17:31

      Devastated he was amazing saw him at Butlins Giants of Rock 2016 and he certainly made me smile RIP

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