Sunday, July 25, 2010

Steve Harley : New Cross Gate Cockney Rebel

Steve Harley (1951-2024)

Glam rocker Steve Harley, who died in March 2024, grew up in New Cross Gate - to be precise at 37 Fairlawn Mansion, New Cross Road.  As Stephen Nice he went to Edmund Waller Primary School and Haberdashers secondary, where his classmates included Peter Perrett, later of The Only Ones

As he recalled in the Sunday Times (25/7/2010):

'In 1953 when I was two, my parents moved from a two-up, two-down in Deptford to a big flat, No.37 Fairlawn Mansions, in New Cross Gate. My father was a milkman, and I'd sometimes catch him cycling off to the depot at 3.30 am. But he also worked as caretaker of the block - there were five of us kids to keep in shoes, after all - which I think gave him a good deal with the rent. He was the hardest working man - which inspired me to take it easy.

I was the second eldest, with an older sister and three younger brothers. I shared with my brothers until I was 15, sleeping in bunk beds, after which I slept in the front room for a couple of years. There was a communal yard for the 48 flats to share, and we would play ball games and cycle. I also had my first ciggy in the cellars there. I was a pupil at Haberdasher's Askes grammar school, but between the ages of 3 and 16 I spent about four years at Queen Mary's Hospital, in Carshalton Breeches, as I had caught polio in the 1950s epidemic...

My parents ended up moving to Spain, and last year my dad came over for a visit. I drove him to New Cross Gate, and all the memories came flooding back. One day, I'd like to knock on the door of No. 37 to see who lives there. I want to know if anyone sleeps in that big front room'.

Wonder if he ever made it back to Fairlawn Mansions?

[post updated with news of Steve Harley's death, March 2024]

Here's Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel performing their biggest hit  'Come up and see me (make me smile)' :


Meadfoot said...

Contact me if you want to knock on the door of your old flat at Fairlawn Mansions. When you sang your hits I was dancing in what I considered at the time to 'alternative music', I used to consider myself to be a 'rock chick'. Belive it or not, there are still one or two people who still remember you living at Fairlawn Mansions, I keep telling the story of 'our famous past resident', most people are suitably impressed. Perhaps we should try for a 'blue sign' although I believe the competition is very strong!

I used to wear a pink fluffy jacket and had a badge of your face on one side and one of Bowie on the other. Also I listened to you being interviewed on the radio sometime ago it reminded me of the happy days and the great music you sang. Happy days.

Unknown said...

Used to live in Fairlawn Mansions the same time as Steve. Remember watching 'The Lone Ranger' on his TV as we didn't have one at the time!