Famous during the 1970s as the founder and frontman of the rock band Cockney Rebel, he recorded such popular albums as The Psychomodo (1974) and Timeless Flight (1976). Also a solo artist, he released Hobo with a Grin (1978), Yes You Can (1992), and four other solo albums between the late 1970s and the early 2000s.
After recovering from a childhood bout of polio, he worked as a reporter for the Daily Express before launching a career in the folk music scene. He later decided he preferred rock 'n' roll, and released The Human Menagerie, his debut album with Cockney Rebel, in 1973.
His most famous singles include "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (which made the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart) and "Mr. Raffles (Man, It Was Mean)" (which rose to number 13 on the U.K. national music chart).
Born Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice to a jazz vocalist mother, he grew up in Deptford, South East London, with one older and three younger siblings. In the 1980s, he and his wife Dorothy welcomed daughters named Greta and Kerr.
Harley's one-time Cockney Rebel bandmate, bassist Paul Jeffreys, was tragically killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.