Steve Harley, best known as vocalist with British glam rock group Cockney Rebel, died at the age of 73, his family confirmed.

Real name Stephen Malcolm Ronald Nice, he’d remained active until his most recent touring plans were canceled as a result of a cancer diagnosis, which he’d revealed in December.

“We are devastated to announce that our wonderful husband and father has passed away peacefully at home, with his family by his side,” a statement on social media read. "The birdsong from his woodland that he loved so much was singing for him. His home has been filled with the sounds and laughter of his four grandchildren.”

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It continued: “Whoever you know him as, his heart exuded only core elements. Passion, kindness, generosity. And much more, in abundance. We know he will be desperately missed by people all over the world, and we ask that you respectfully allow us privacy to grieve.”

Cockney Rebel was active from 1972 to 1977, then again for two short reunion stints before a permanent return in 1996 – although for the vast majority of that time it was effectively Harley’s solo project. Along with “Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)” came several more hits including “Judy Teen,” “Mr. Soft” and a cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”

“I was in hospital from February ’63 to December and in that year, the Beatles exploded, the Stones exploded and Dylan imploded,” Harley – who suffered from polio as a child – once told Songwriter magazine. “[H]e didn’t blow the place apart with an image and rock music, but what he did was prove [something] to all of us that cared about words, not just lyrics.

Steve Harley Admitted He Was ‘Difficult to Work With’

“Because in Dylan’s case they were poems. That entirely turned my head and overwhelmed me. … I’d been bought an acoustic guitar when I was ten and I would never have learned those chords if it hadn’t been for Dylan.”

Admitting he’d always been “difficult to work with” in terms of songwriting, he recalled the recording of “Make Me Smile” ahead of its release in 1975, saying: [T]he managing director of EMI at the time, Bob Mercer, came down to Abbey Road… I said to Bob, ‘Listen to this,’ and he said, "Number one.’ I joked, ‘Is that a promise?’ He just repeated, ‘number one,’ so we knew it was special.

“Sure, it’s all about… the whole package" but it all starts with the song. You can’t make a great great single out of a crap song. It’s the magical feelgood factor… Songwriting can be so many different things.”

Watch Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel’s ‘Make Me Smile’

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