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Steve Harley

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Steve Harley was born as Steven Nice, on 27 February 1951 in South London, growing up in New Cross and attended the school Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College. His musical career began in the late 1960s when he was busking (with John Crocker) and performing his own songs, some of which were later recorded by him and the band. The original Cockney Rebel was formed when Steve hooked up with his former folk partner, John Crocker (fiddle / mandolin / guitar) in 1972. They auditioned drummer Stuart Elliott, bassist Paul Jeffreys, and keyboardist Milton Reame-James. They were signed to EMI after playing just five gigs. Their first single “Sebastian”, a soaring rock epic, was an immediate success in Europe, though failed to score in the UK singles chart. Their first album, The Human Menagerie, was released in 1973 to critical acclaim, and is still felt by many fans to be their best. The orchestra arrangements were penned by a guy named Andrew Powell who was suggested to the group by their record company. The interesting aspect about Steve’s backing band was that they had no real lead guitarist, which equaled to a revolutionary move at that time. Steve’s unashamed theatricality, the weird costumes for his stage appearances and the dithyrambic live performance soon made Cockney Rebel one of the most critically acclaimed acts on the circuit, soon gaining a strong cult following.

Harley managed to irritate a significant segment of the music press with his self-aggrandisement, even as the music itself was getting rave reviews and gaining a wide audience.

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