The 5-minute Interview: Steve Harley, Singer, actor, presenter

'Half of the world believes I've only recorded one album'

Harley, 57, is lead singer of the 1970s rock group Cockney Rebel, best known for the hit single 'Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)'. He has since released 12 albums and hosted the BBC radio show 'Sounds of the Seventies'. This summer, he and the band will tour the UK, playing The IndigO2 on 7 June. Tickets are available at

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

Reading the Racing Post. It's my great love after music and my family.

A phrase I use far too often...

"The answer is yes, what's the question?"

I wish people would take more notice of...

My musical history. I've written 12 original albums, but half of the world only think I've done one.

The most surprising thing to happen to me...

I got a gold badge of merit from the British Board of Composers, about three years ago for my contribution to music. That was a surprise.

A common misperception of me is...

That I lack humility. Although I'm hoping that's in the past, I live by the words of T S Eliot that: "The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility, humility is endless."

I am not a politician but...

I loathe the arrogance of the mediocre politicians ruling the world. But if I was a politician, I would close down the Scottish Parliament or insist it has its own devolved parliament and rule itself, because I feel its taking advantage to the nth degree.

I'm good at...

Small talk – and of course hoodwinking journalists.

I'm very bad at...

Starting discussions when I know it would be much easier to keep the peace and remain silent. I know it's less than sensible to do this sometimes but I cannot help myself.

The ideal night out is...

Going to the theatre, or even appearing at the theatre. I've just performed a Samuel Beckett play and for fans of Beckett the words are good enough to eat. Waiting for Godot first appeared in the Fifties andthe more you read and perform the words the more – in some bizarre way – it makes sense.

In moments of weakness I...

I pray. I don't preach but I read the lesson every Sunday.

You know me as a musician but in another life I'd have been...

I wish I could paint. I buy and collect art but I wish I had the talent to be an artist. Particularly with the unique talent of people like Turner, Picasso, El Greco or Caravaggio.

The best age to be is...

35. That's the age that I still remain. No question about it, particularly when onstage, I feel 35.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is...

Consideration for the man next door to you. How you treat others will determine your treatment.

Faye Lewis

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