Tributes pour in after British rocker Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel passes away at 73

British rocker Steve Harley has tragically passed away at age 73. Source: Getty Images.

With heavy hearts, fans of rock music mourn the loss of British rocker Steve Harley, best known as the frontman of Cockney Rebel.

At the age of 73, Harley leaves behind a rich musical legacy that has inspired generations. The group’s popular hit song, Make Me Smile, continues to be celebrated today as an anthem symbolising the glam rock movement of the 70s.

Following an announcement late last year that the singer was battling a “nasty cancer”, the band was unable to commit to any tour dates in 2024.

Harley passed away peacefully at home on March 17 surrounded by his loved ones.

In a statement posted to the rock band’s website, Harley’s daughter, Greta, said “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, and his home has been filled with the sounds and laughter of his four grandchildren,” she added.

“Stephen, Steve, Dad, Grandar, Steve Harley  – whoever you know him as, his heart exuded only core elements. Passion, kindness, generosity, and much more, in abundance.

“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.

“We know he will be desperately missed by people all over the world, and we ask that you respectfully allow us privacy to grieve.”

Steve’s adoring fans flooded the band’s official X page with their heartfelt condolences:

Oh no. RIP Steve Harley,” one wrote. 

“So sad when another piece of your past gains their wings. Thank you for being part of the soundtrack of my life.”

“My thoughts and prayers go out to Dorothy and to Steve’s family. I was so glad to have known him. Playing gigs with him was always a joy, not to mention his dry sense of humour. A one-off who will always be remembered. R.I.P. Steve. xx,” commented another.

“I’ve followed Steve & his band for 50 years after first hearing his Psychomodo album as a young boy. Devastated to hear the news today as he was a class singer/songwriter & musician. So glad I got to see him for one last time last year at Belfast. RIP.”

“Terribly sad news. Had the pleasure of meeting Steve a couple of times and always very kind. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP Steve Ix”

Harley’s music career started rather unconventionally as a trainee accountant and then as a local journalist while performing at London folk clubs.

Cockney Rebel was formed in 1973 with the launch of a debut album, The Human Menagerie. But the band quickly fizzled out over creative differences.

Two years later a new band emerged, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, with a new album The Best Years of our Lives which precipitated their biggest hit, Make Me Smile.

The song left a lasting impression on music history, solidifying Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel’s place as influential figures in the world of rock music.

Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up