Steve Harley

& Cockney Rebel

DIARY 22/06/15

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We spent a few days in a recording Studio recently, and “Ordinary People” came out sounding like a potential R2 play-lister…..if only! I’ve added an extra 12 bars of new melody and lyric (a Middle 8, which is actually 12). The files (that’s the digital recording) are on their way via the Ethernet to Matt Butler for re-mixing. We’ll release it as a single in the autumn, in the hope of getting some air-play around the country, serving as a boost to publicity for the November tour. And that tour is…..

Engineer Richard Clark, left, and assistant George at 'Ordinary People' session, The Shrubbery Studio, Bury St Edmunds

occupying much time in the lives of several of us. I had lunch with Jim Cregan recently, soon after playing with him at the Rock ‘N Horsepower Prostate Cancer Festival at Kenney Jones’s polo field.  Jim’s in fine form, and is keen to encourage all men to take the test regularly. I auctioned off another nearly-new Taylor guitar, plus a few extras, from the stage, and raised a top bid of £7,000. It costs me little and helps the good cause tremendously. The Wagner Twins are revved up for the November dates. I spent a very good few hours with them at their home in the north-west, running through many of the songs we’ll be including. What a joy. They are 20-years-old and full of ambition and love for music. They play guitars, percussion, drums, sing beautifully and look fabulous. Charismatic through and through.

We still need to do a final Fans Poll count, but the leading contenders for the first (maybe second, I’m not sure yet…) set are Nothing Is Sacred, All Men Are Hungry, All In A Life’s Work and Tumbling Down.  Love’s A Prima Donna seems to be the most popular rockier track. Around 700 votes were registered. I thank those who took the time.

Spring was spectacular in our garden this year. I hadn’t seen a greenfinch for the past two years, today there were three hanging on the feeders. Goldfinches hog the nijer seed, and starlings, the street fighters of the English garden, flock with their juveniles and pummel the dried mealworms. They are amusing, if slightly bullying. At any time, I’ll spot the greater spotted woodpecker at the peanut feeder; blackbirds six or more at a time; several cock sparrows with their babies nearby shouting for food from the rooftop; yellowhammers, chaffinches, long-tailed tits, two jays together, crows and rooks, pheasants and even the occasional mallard and his mate. At night, the Bushnell Stealth cameras film badgers picking at the seed on the lawn, or turning up corners of turf to get at worms and ants; a fox (sometimes at the same time) and the greedy Munjacs who treat a flowery garden as a salad bar. It’s fascinating, what goes on while we sleep. I left some wet cat food out by the feeds a few times recently and the badgers devoured it each time, the fox coming by to sniff out leftovers nestling in the grass. 


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The camera timings are not set accurately


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Badger picking bird seed


On the theatre front, I got to Stratford for Anthony Sher’s Willy Loman (“Death Of A Salesman”) and almost wept at his magnificence. Sher is a tragedy giant. I wrote him a card to congratulate him on a colossal performance. On the other hand, The Old Vic’s “High Society” production is a touch am-dram for my tastes.

Taken a few trips to the Essex coast to visit my dad and his lady-friend, Eileen, and his general health (89 in October) is really fine. His short-term memory is poor, but we humour him and let it pass. We don’t believe in the correct-them-every-time approach. Why humiliate fabulous old people? It’s tiring, hard work, patiently taking in the repetition, but it pays its own rewards if you think about it. 


SH with dad and family


An international superstar has recorded one of my songs for his new album. No names, no pack drill, just yet, because I hate to tempt fate. And anything can happen between the cutting room and the shops.  When we know, you’ll know, and I believe totally that you will love it. I have it (the superstar sent me a file by email) and it is, for me, a beautiful reading of a slightly complex lyric. That’s why the superstar is a superstar, I guess.


Nick Kershaw, singing Make Me Smile backing vocals


The guitar has gone to a good cause…


Steve with Jim and Barry and band at Rock 'N Horsepower festival