About Steve Harley Acoustic Trio
Steve Harley Deptford, London, England) is an English singer and songwriter, best known as frontman of the rock group Cockney Rebel, with whom he still tours.
Harley was born in 1951 in Deptford, London, as Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice, and was the second of five children in his family. His father was a milkman and his mother a semi-professional jazz singer.
During the summer of 1953, Harley contracted polio, causing him to spend four years in hospital between the ages of 3 and 16. He underwent two major surgeries in 1963 and 1966. After recovering from the first operation at the age of 12, Harley was introduced to the poetry of T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence, the prose of John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, and the music of Bob Dylan, which inspired him to a career of words and music.
From the age of 9, Harley began taking classical violin lessons and would later play as part of his Grammar school orchestra. At the age of 10, he began learning the guitar after receiving a Spanish nylon-strung guitar from his parents at Christmas. Harley was a pupil of Edmund Waller Primary School in New Cross, London. He then attended Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham Boys' Grammar School until he was 17. He left school without completing his advanced level exams.
In 1968, at the age of 17, Harley began working as a trainee accountant with the Daily Express. This was his first full-time job, despite his having gained only 24% in his mock O-level maths exam. From there he progressed to become a reporter. After being interviewed by several newspaper editors, Harley signed to train with Essex County Newspapers. Over the duration of three years, Harley worked at the Essex County Standard, the Braintree and Witham Times, the Maldon and Burnham Standard and the Colchester Evening Gazette. He later returned to London to work for the East London Advertiser. Harley became disillusioned with the job when his editor insisted he write a report on a shoplifter who had absentmindedly walked out with a tin of soup and a tin of baked beans. Taking advice from his union representative, he stopped wearing a tie, grew his hair and was duly sacked. Among many of Harley's peers who went on to gain successful careers in national journalism were John Blake and Richard Madeley, the latter who took over Harley's desk at the ELA in 1972.
Harley started his musical career playing in bars and clubs in 1971, mainly at folk venues on open-mike nights. He sang at Les Cousins, Bunjies and The Troubadour on nights featuring John Martyn, Ralph McTell, Martin Carthy and Julie Felix, who were all popular musicians within the London folk movement of the time. In 1971, he auditioned for the folk band Odin as rhythm guitarist and co-singer, which was where he met Jean-Paul Crocker, who would become the first Cockney Rebel violinist. While writing songs, Harley also began busking around various places in London in 1972, including on the Underground and in Portobello Road. After the folk scene proved not to be his preference, Harley formed the band Cockney Rebel in late 1972 as a vehicle for his own work.
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