Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

Steve's Online Diary

Diary 20/05/20

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These days, the mind wanders.

As Dickens put it, these are the best of times and the worst of times. The best because I’ve never known a more perfect Spring.  The lanes around the Suffolk/Essex border are alive with May blossom, hawthorn, blackthorn and now apple. Our overgrown but still fertile orchard is giving signs of a bumper crop of apples. The cherry plums too are in bud by the thousand. The ash and sycamore trees are thick with fresh growth and the hazel and walnut look like an abundant crop of their own fruit will bring pleasure to the ruddy grey squirrels. We never get them.

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Diary 10/04/20

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Kiddies have a way.

No spite, no prejudice. No sides, no pretence. They just have a way…

The last time I saw my grandson, Cameron, was March 8th. Sunday. The day after my second run of dates at the Holborn Pizza Express concluded. We were celebrating my birthday which had fallen on February 27th.  This Sunday gave us, the family, our first chance to be together.

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Diary 13/07/18

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Watching the First Night of The Proms and thinking how brilliant those players are. OK, it’s the BBC Symphony Orchestra, so it’s going to be top-notch. But then it hits me: I play with two classically trained musicians, James and Barry, who improvise and swing like jazzers and blues men of old. Our acoustic trio brings us all great pleasure. Then I remember: I played with 24 of those classicos. Again, at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. And a 12-piece Classical choir. And what a team they were!

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Diary 29/04/18

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Worthing Pavilion, end of the pier: what a good time. Tiny (180 seats), but full of cool, respectful people and we played with a great sound and soulful feeling. Barry and James thought it a musically special experience. We’ll be back. I have grown a penchant for smaller venues for the Acoustic Trio, unusual venues, where I believe we will sell out to an enthusiastic audience, even if the ticket price has to be relatively high (costs ain’t low).

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Diary 10/04/18

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I was a little on tenterhooks for several days as the countdown began for Yarm and Holmfirth. The welcome those sold-out, packed crowds gave me was pretty moving. I needn’t have worried. But it really is best for any performer to feel an edge. Complacency is the enemy. The high-backed stool with its footrest proved perfect. Came from the John Lewis store. It lives normally in a Guest bedroom in our house. We’ve ordered another, just so I’m set up comfortably until the wound heals completely.

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Diary 02/03/18

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There’s nothing better than a surprise. Mrs Harley kept from me on my birthday, last Tuesday, the knowledge that daughter-in-law Lieze was going to pay a visit with wee Cameron. Surprise? Mega-thrill, actually. Sudden, unannounced visit by the grandchild. If you’ve got one, you’ll understand instinctively how I felt. I was reading and writing on my PC when the study door slowly opened, and I needed a long look. It was the welly-boots that convinced me. They had come a 90-minute drive, with snow on the way, and I just found it all so noble and kind of Lieze. The boy had fun in the woods, and helped tip ice off the canvas cover of my row-boat, up by the big pond.

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Diary 14/02/18

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On Thursday evening, I parked at my friend’s house to visit for a meeting and strolled through his front door like everything was quite normal. How your world can be turned on its head in a second’s flash!

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Diary 19/10/17

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I went to a Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers gig in Holmfirth recently. It’s true, I did. And here’s Les and me backstage at the Picturedrome before the show. My good friend, Judy, was a huge fan in the 70s. Wore the tartan as a teenager. And her husband, my friend Mike, didn’t fancy it one bit. So I said I’d organise things. Les and I socialised a little at the end of the 70s and early 80s in Los Angeles and London, so he was quite happy for us to visit backstage. And it was Judy’s great moment: her Mohammed Ali moment. Her Bob Dylan moment. She met Les. Her teenage idol. And Les was as nice as could be to her. Judy now has her own small gallery of pix with Les. It’s good to make people happy, isn’t it…

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Diary 29/09/17

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Will sing a couple of tracks with Steve Norman’s band (including my guitarist Paul Cuddeford) at the Holborn Pizza Express on October 7th. Only asked him for a pair of Guest tickets, which he said was no problem – then he talked me into performing. Singing for my supper? Yep. And that’s fine. Steve N is one of the great musicians and people of our business. And he’s my friend.

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Diary 22/06/17

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Advance party on site at Glastonbury. Everyone gets a wristband!

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Diary 24/03/17

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Seems a long time since Chelsea, yet at the same time…….anyway, I liked that venue. Small (550 capacity) but it had everything. Seemed user-friendly. For the performers, it was near-perfect. Then to Holmfirth. Quite a different kettle. Big space. Big noise and a Fan Convention, too. Stewart’s quiz was a stinker. I would have to Google myself all over the place to get more than 50% of the answers right. I’d like to know how many correct answers the winner managed. Do tell, Stewart. And did the wee collection of AAA Passes we sent go down well? I wish I could have been more generous, but I am not a big hoarder of my own career’s memorabilia.

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Diary 01/01/17

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What a year that was. The list of high-profile performers’ deaths seemed never-ending, beginning almost twelve months back with the shattering realisation that Bowie had gone, and the dreadful shock of losing George Michael on Christmas Day capping it.

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DIARY 11/08/16

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Status Quo and my band might seem like odd bedfellows, but there’s something about their fans that I like. And they don’t mind me, it seems. Rochester was good enough, but Caldicot Castle was a real blast. New bass player, Kuma Harada, has boosted the feel of the rhythm section more than somewhat. He is keen to take a solo, too, on Best Years when I throw it into the set. I’ve struggled to get bassists to look like they are enjoying themselves for a lot of years. Billy Dyer does, and now so does Kuma. I like players who like playing, and show it. But he won’t sing. “You won’t like my Japanese accent”, is his excuse. And that’ll do.

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DIARY 04/05/16

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The “Rock For Ronson” event proved a real joy. It was good to see old friends like Suzi, Mick’s widow, for the first time in many years. Mick’s sister, Maggi, sang “Ziggy Stardust” with my band backing her, and his daughter, Lisa, performed two Bowie songs that her dad had made his own, musically, with Earl Slick on lead guitar, and my chaps.  Steve Norman joined the band for the whole set, and shook the old City Hall to a tremor with a blistering saxophone solo and improvisations n “Cavaliers”.

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DIARY 26/02/16

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I'll keep this brief. It's been quite a crazy time lately. Baby born; baby now, finally, named: Cameron (after his strong Scottish ancestry) William (after his South African bloodline; father-in-law is Willem) Nice.

Click Read more to see proud Grandad with the wee bairn. He's a cracker.

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DIARY 04/02/16

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How do I put this without feeling my age, or even older than my age? Straight to the point then: I am a Grandfather. On  February 3rd, 2016, daughter-in-law, Lieze,  and my son, Kerr, were gifted a healthy and, dare I say, beautiful (aren’t they all?)

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DIARY 11/01/16

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I wanted it to be a clever, dastardly stunt. I didn’t want it to be true. David Bowie dead? I mix with people who were close to him. I never felt a hint of a serious medical problem from any of them. David, cancer? His friends were as loyal as he’d obviously asked them to be. That in itself speaks well of the man. My thoughts are with those who were his family and friends. I hadn’t actually spoken to David since Marc Bolan’s funeral. But the Beckenham days have always been with me, so a certain friendship, with the smallest of Fs, has endured. For now, many

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DIARY 10/12/15

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Manchester came a little too quick on the heels of rehearsals, to be truthful, and a few endings must have seemed ragged to the sharper-eared and more critical among the audience. But those peccadillos were soon behind us and it all got better and better by the show. That’s touring for you.

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DIARY 28/10/15

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Now Greta Joy is married. My little girl, aged 30, has tied it with Nelson George. It was a faultlessly brilliant day and evening. We were extremely proud of Greta. She is clever and modest; witty and compassionate; charming and loveable…….

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DIARY 27/07/15

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The recent festivals have gone well, Brentwood being like playing "at home". We live 40 minutes from there. Holt was special. Beautiful setting: an amphitheatre in the woods around Gresham's School. A thousand souls (sold out many weeks in advance) prepared for all elements that might get thrown at them. It had poured the day and evening before, so the track downhill to the  backstage area was slippy, but the weather stayed fine for us; clear, blue skies and a cool, dry evening for the show. I saw many anoraks with hoods. Not needed after all! Mona and Lisa Wagner were with us, on stage with us for the first time. What a debut…

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