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TRIBUTE: Steve Harley

The musician Steve Harley has sadly passed away today at the age of 73, following a short battle with cancer.

Steve Harley is best known for being the singer and frontman of Cockney Rebel and man who wrote the song ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)’ which topped the UK singles chart in 1975. Cockney Rebel had already achieved success with earlier singles ‘Judy Teen’ and ‘Mr Soft’ and a sold-out tour of the UK which had certainly reached a certain level of hysteria, but ‘Make Me Smile’ elevated Harley and the band onto an even higher commercial plane.

The song is actually about three members of Cockney Rebel – which had been formed by Steve Harley in late 1971 – having walked out of the band following the aforementioned tour due to differences around songwriting. Harley promptly formed another band with original drummer Stuart Elliott who had stayed loyal to him and it was renamed Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel.  

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel then enjoyed further success over the next couple of years through the albums The Best Years of Our Lives, Timeless Flight, and Love’s A Prima Donna as well as the singles ‘Mr. Raffles (Man, It Was Mean)’ and their cover of George Harrison’s ‘Here Comes The Sun’ before Harley embarked upon a solo career in 1977.

Over the ensuing decades Steve Harley continued to tour regularly and produce music both as a solo artist and as part of the reformed Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel who released their sixth studio album, The Quality of Mercy in 2005.

But it is undoubtedly the classic pop song ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)’ for which Steve Harley will be most remembered musically. It has been confirmed as one of the most-played songs in British broadcasting by The Performing Rights Society, and over 120 versions of the track have been recorded by other artists.

Main photo of Steve Harley at Hardwick Live Garden Party in Sedgefield in September 2014: Simon Godley

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.