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Former editor pays tribute to journalist turned pop star

The former editor of journalist-turned-pop-star Steve Harley has paid tribute to the “local legend” after his death age 73.

Before finding fame in the music business, the then Steve Nice was a reporter with several local news titles in Essex, London and Kent.

He trained with Essex County Newspapers in the late 1960s, going on to work at the Essex County Standard, the Braintree and Witham Times, the Maldon and Burnham Standard and the Colchester Evening Gazette.

He then moved to London and worked for the East London Advertiser and the South East London and Kentish Mercury before leaving the industry to form his chart-topping group, Cockney Rebel.


Former Evening Gazette editor Ken Runicles described Steve as a “local legend” and said he had “fond memories” of working with him.

Said Ken: “Steve started his newspaper career working in the same office as me in the early 1970s. He still lived locally and was often seen strumming his guitar outside his Frinton beach hut.

“I have memories of many good times working together at the Braintree and Witham Times, where he was simply Steve Nice to the rest of us.

“Bless you, Steve, for sharing your talents and your music with us all.”

Retired journalist Robin Young recalled: “Before he left to be a full-time musician, Steve had been a reporter on the South East London and Kentish Mercury.

“The then editor had told him he was being reckless and would never make a career out of music. A little later his band, Cockney Rebel, had the classic hit Make Me Smile.

“It brings back fond memories for me because I was the reporter who got his old job.”

Over half a century in the music business, Steve racked up one UK number one – Make Me Smile in 1975 – as well as two UK top tens, and four UK top 40s.

Steve, who was undergoing treatment for cancer, died peacefully at home, with his family.

A statement from his daughter, Greta, said: “We are devastated to announce that our wonderful husband and father has passed away peacefully at home, with his family by his side.”