British rocker Steve Harley was born in London on February 27, 1951; the son of a jazz singer, he was stricken with polio at age two and spent the better part of his adolescence in and out of hospitals. After trying his hand at journalism, by the early '70s Harley was busking throughout London, forming the band Cockney Rebel in 1973 with guitarist Jean Paul Crocker, bassist Paul Jeffreys, keyboardist Milton Reame James, and drummer Stuart Elliott.
Signing to EMI, the group debuted with The Human Menagerie; the single "Judy Teen" followed in early in 1974, becoming Cockney Rebel's first hit. Psychomodo was also a success, but as Harley's combative relationship with the press worsened he dissolved the group soon after. A Harley solo single, "Big Big Deal, " preceded the formation of a new Cockney Rebel lineup, which again featured drummer Stuart Elliott in addition to new guitarist Jim Cregan, bassist George Ford and keyboardist Duncan McKay.
1975's The Best Years of Our Lives generated Harley's first U.K. chart-topper, "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me), " on its way to selling over a million copies; the follow-up Love's a Prima Donna also launched a Top Ten hit with its cover of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."
When his recording of "Mr. Soft" experienced a rebirth thanks to its use in a television commercial, Harley assembled a hits collection of the same name. Soon after he formed a new incarnation of Cockney Rebel and regularly toured into the following decade. 1999's Stripped to Bare Bones documents an acoustic set recorded the year previous. Yes You Can was issued in summer 2000.
In recent times, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel have played Glastonbury Festival three times, the Isle of Wight festival and many of Europe's major rock festivals.
Steve received a Special Award from Childline Rocks for his work for charity, at the Classic Rock magazine Award ceremony at London’s Park Lane Hotel in 2009.
Steve’s work raising money for the Mines Advisory group and several schools for Disabled Children were cited in the speech delivered by blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa.
Harley's sixth solo album, Uncovered, including the single "I've Just Seen a Face", was released in February 2020. A touring band, billed as the Steve Harley Acoustic Band, was formed to promote the new album