Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley dies aged 73 following short battle with cancer as fans pay tribute

17 March 2024, 11:46 | Updated: 17 March 2024, 12:07

Steve Harley has died aged 73.
Steve Harley has died aged 73. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

The rock musician Steve Harley has died aged 73 just weeks after cancelling his tour dates to undergo cancer treatment.

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The Cockney Rebel frontman, best known for his song ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me), died at his Suffolk home on Sunday morning.

"We are devastated to announce that our wonderful husband and father has passed away peacefully at home, with his family by his side," his family said in a statement on his Facebook page.

"The birdsong from his woodland that he loved so much was singing for him. His home has been filled with the sounds and laughter of his four grandchildren.

"Whoever you know him as, his heart exuded only core elements. Passion, kindness, generosity. And much more, in abundance."

It comes after the singer announced he would be cancelling the Steve Harley Acoustic Band tour this year due to his cancer treatment.

In a post shared on Instagram, the singer’s team said: “Due to on-going treatment for cancer, Steve cannot commit to any concerts in 2024.

“Steve is hoping next year will be altogether different. He appreciates all your kind words and good wishes. Team SH.”

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Harley was best known as the frontman of rock band Cockney Rebel.
Harley was best known as the frontman of rock band Cockney Rebel. Picture: Alamy

Fans paid tribute to Harley following the news, as one wrote: “How very said to hear of the passing of Steve Harley. We only saw him last May and he was in fine form. Very warm, friendly and funny person.”

Another said: “I sat next to Steve Harley at a concert in 80s he was so pleasant , such sad news rip Steve.”

One added: “Devastating and extremely sad news that my music hero and idol Steve Harley has passed away. From 1973 - to present, I have loved his music and fantastic concerts.

"Thoughts and deepest sympathy to his family and friends. You will be missed immensely. RIP Steve.”

At Christmas, Harley opened up about his struggle with cancer, as he shared a message to fans on his website.

He wrote: “2023 has not exactly been an annus horribilis for me, as the first half was often magical, with some great nights on stage with Barry, Oli and David. And the full rock band in Holland and Belgium, and Denmark….out there, on the road, that's where I come alive.

Harley had a short battle with cancer.
Harley had a short battle with cancer. Picture: Alamy

“The second half, well…cancelling Live dates is heartbreaking. I'm aware of the stress and financial strain it can place on you.

“But I'm fighting a nasty cancer. My oncologist is pleased with the treatment's effects so far. It's tiresome, and tiring. But the fight is on. And thankfully the cursed intruder is not affecting the voice. I sing and play most evenings.”

Cockney Rebel rose to fame in the early 1970s, with the band made up of Harley, Jean-Paul Crocker, drummer Stuart Elliott, bassist Paul Jeffreys and guitarist Nick Jones.

Harley temporarily ventured onto the music scene as a solo artist before the band regrouped in 1990.