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Heroes & Villains: Steve Harley

Who was your earliest hero?

I had two paths. The first was literary: I saw Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade [in 1940s film noir The Maltese Falcon] and I became very, very moved by American prose. I don’t know why, I was a working-class lad in Deptford. I also developed a lifelong love of the work of Ernest Hemingway.

Whose music rubbed off on you early on?

My mum was a brilliant jazz swing band singer, and my paternal great grandfather played organ in a church in Brockley. But hearing Blowin’ In The Wind [1962] changed my life. Bob Dylan teamed wordplay with pop music and it opened up so many doors.

That’s heroes. What about villains? Margaret Thatcher seems to divide people.

Towards the end of her sojourn in Downing Street I started to think she wasn’t well, mentally speaking. She went from being Boadicea to a complete megalomaniac. Some people still hope she’s rotting in hell, but I can’t speak for them. If you really want to talk villains, let’s discuss career politicians. Those people disgust me. They leave university and go straight to Parliament. Never had a fucking job but think they know how to lead a country.

Which category does someone like Nigel Farage fall into?

He’s a tough one. There’s something ‘of the night’ about him. But for fifty-five minutes on Question Time he stood head and shoulders above the mainstream politicians. Farage ate them all for breakfast and spat them out. I like him, but he won’t get my vote any time soon.

Musically speaking, which bands or singers set your teeth on edge?

Am I the only person on planet Earth that doesn’t understand the fascination with ABBA? It was just bubblegum pop.

Do you have any sporting heroes?

Well, I’ve always been a Millwall man.

Are you suggesting there’s been an iconic Millwall player?

Bloody cheek! In the sixties we had Alex Stepney, and Eamon Dunphy who became a noted sports pundit. Villains? I can think of none bigger than the referee who [in 1967] gave a penalty to Plymouth to end Millwall’s record-breaking unbeaten home run – sixty matches. All hell broke loose and it caused the first ever aggressive pitch invasion. It’s where hooliganism started.

Eric Cantona – hero or villain?

Oh, hero, no doubt. Even now he’s so sexy. On the telly in those adverts with a full beard, he’s so charismatic. But I wouldn’t want him to kung-fu kick me in the chest.

Who else is a villain?

Madonna. You only had to see her crush Kevin Costner in that movie Truth Or Dare. And musically she’s a drag, either stuck in the eighties or jumping on a bandwagon. I dislike the whole girlie sexuality she helped to develop. It spawned Miley Cyrus, which is unforgivable.

Dave Ling
Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.