East 17, promo tour in Cologne, 2012
|Origin||Walthamstow, London, England|
|Genres||Pop, dance-pop, pop-rap, hip hop|
|Labels||London Records (1991-1997)
Telstar Records (1998-1999)
FOD Records (2011-2014)
Dax Music (2014-present)
We Are Elements
East 17 is an English pop boy band group consisting of original members John Hendy and Terry Coldwell and newest addition to the line-up Robbie Craig. The original line-up also featured Brian Harvey and Tony Mortimer.
The group achieved 18 Top 20 singles and four Top 10 albums, and were one of the UK's most popular boy bands during the early to mid-1990s, aided by strong tabloid interest in their 'bad boy' image compared to the 'clean cut' image of rivals Take That. Their style blended pop and hip hop in songs such as "House of Love" and "Let It Rain".
The group have sold over 1.8 million albums and 1.8 million singles in the UK.
The group began in 1991 when Tony Mortimer was promised a record deal with London Records after he presented his own material. The deal was granted under the condition that he form a group, which would be in the format that London Records were looking for. Mortimer later formed East 17 with Brian Harvey, John Hendy, Mark Briggs and Terry Coldwell.
The group was named East 17 after the postcode of their hometown, Walthamstow. The original roles in the band were soon altered when Brian Harvey, who was intended to be a back-up singer and dancer, was made lead singer due to his vocal talent.
Mortimer wrote the vast majority of the group's songs, which often contained rap verses vocalised by him to complement Harvey's more fluid vocals.
They shaved their heads, and had tattoos, and were a lot, lot cooler than the nancy boys of Take That. In the great five-year battle that dominated British pop, East 17 were also on the winning side. Their music was sharper and more streetwise. It was infused with hip hop and sold by the bucketload: 18 million records across Europe, compared with Take That's paltry 17 million.-- Guy Adams
East 17 scored twelve Top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart between 1992 and 1998. Their debut album, Walthamstow, shot to No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart. It featured a string of Top 20 singles, including "House of Love" and "Deep". "It's Alright" became a major success in Australia, reaching No. 1 in early 1994 for seven consecutive weeks, and No. 3 in the UK in 1993. The lyrics to some of their songs, such as "Let It Rain", had political undertones, talking about war, peace, equality, love, and other political issues.
In 1994, upon the release of their second album Steam, they scored their only UK number-one single with "Stay Another Day". It remained at the top for five weeks and was also that year's Christmas number-one.
Following the somewhat low-key release of the next album, Up All Night, their drop in appeal became apparent compared to previous albums. The album's songwriting duties were split among the four members of the group, rather than Mortimer alone, although all of the singles released from the album were penned by him.
In January 1997, Brian Harvey was engulfed in a drug-related controversy when he claimed that he had taken Ecstasy pills on a night out, stating in the press that "It's cool to take drugs" and claiming that Ecstasy "can make you a better person". The press put a spin on the story, tying it in to schoolgirl Leah Betts' death from MDMA in 1995.
The act went against the group's 'boy band' image, and there was a media uproar, leading to questions being raised in the House of Commons. With the group's career and reputation tarnished by the affair, Harvey was swiftly sacked and Mortimer decided to leave several months later, due to creative differences between himself and the rest of the group. The band's split in 1997 has been described as "one of the greatest break-ups in pop history".
Coldwell and Hendy later reinstated Harvey and attempted a comeback in 1998 renaming the group E-17 and landed a record deal with Telstar Records after recording an album's worth of self-written material in their home studios. Their first single as E-17 was "Each Time," which reached No. 2 in the UK. But without Mortimer's songwriting influence, the group's initial success soon wavered, and after disappointing sales of the next single "Betcha Can't Wait" reaching number 12 in the charts, and their album Resurrection failing to make the UK Top 40 and not selling as much as the record company would have liked. The band were later dropped by their label in 1999 and subsequently split up.
In 2001, Harvey launched himself as a solo artist in a collaboration with Wyclef Jean on the Top 20 single "Loving You", but later returned to perform numerous gigs on the nostalgia circuit with Coldwell and Hendy. On the ITV1 docusoap Redcoats, the trio were shown performing at a gig that was held at Butlins in Bognor on a bill which also featured Keith Harris, whilst in 2005, Harvey, Coldwell and Hendy performed a gig in Mongolia. Harvey made the news in May 2005 when he accidentally ran himself over, and required surgical treatment. He suffered severe, life-threatening injuries as a result, falling into a coma for several weeks following the incident.
On 4 February 2006, Harvey appeared on the UK music television show CD:UK, where he announced that East 17 might make a comeback with its four original members. In mid-February 2006, the group reformed, and played their first comeback concert on 30 May at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. After reforming for the one-off gig, it was reported that Mortimer had left the group again due to a confrontation with Harvey, who were both "involved in a punch-up" between each other.
East 17 continued to perform as a three-member group without Mortimer. They played at the University of Strathclyde on 24 September 2006, after DJ Colin Murray was unable to attend. Since then, the group has performed in clubs around the UK as well as becoming regulars on the 1990s themed Butlins Big Weekends. A new single, "Fuck That" was due to be released in early 2008  as well as a new album "Universalization", but both went unreleased.
The group performed at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival on 25 June in the dance lounge. In November 2009, the group collaborated with Mortimer in aid of the Born Free Foundation, they performed two of their best known songs--"Deep" and "Stay Another Day"--for the Wild & Live! event at the Royal Albert Hall. After the performance, the four agreed that it would be best if they never sang together again, however, according to a BBC Radio 2 interview with Zoë Ball in December 2009, songwriter Tony Mortimer mentioned that the band were on 'talking terms' and were planning a comeback for 2010.
Tony Mortimer returned to the group in 2010. Brian Harvey left soon after as his commitment was questioned by the rest of the group, as he had been missing rehearsals and cancelling gigs. In 2011 T-Mobile used the East 17 song "House of Love" in a Royal Wedding "spoof" commercial. In April 2011 it was announced Blair Dreelan had joined the band for their 'Back to the Future' tour in August and September 2011 to promote their comeback single 'Secret of My Life', On 28 September 2011 Dreelan left the group due to contractual obligations. On 27 November 2011, they appeared as musical guests on X Factor (Romania).
East 17's fifth studio album Dark Light, along with a new single "I Can't Get You Off My Mind" were released in 2012.
Mortimer departed for the third time in 2013. Robbie Craig later joined East 17 in early 2014. John Hendy and Terry Coldwell became the only original band members in the group at that stage.
A concert in 2015 only managed to attract an audience of approximately 30 people for a venue with a capacity of 833. The band delayed the start of the show by an hour in the hope that more fans would turn up but eventually ended up performing to the low numbered audience. Fans blamed this on the replacement of the core band members who had sung their top tracks. After the show, they did an interview with Donagh Corby, of website Young Perspective stating how much they enjoyed playing at the venue. John Hendy said "it was an amazing show... amazing crowd, lots of energy," while Robbie Craig added "Dubliners know how to enjoy themselves don't they."
In the interview with Young Perspective, Terry Coldwell revealed that they will be releasing a new album, with their debut single to be called "Warning".
In 2017, East 17 released their sixth studio album 24/7, with the intended first single being Strip along with an accompanying music video. The album was released early in Australia as 24/7: Australian Tour Edition as a surprise while they partook in B*Witched's Australia & NZ Tour as a supporting act alongside Atomic Kitten, S Club 3 and Liberty X.
What is his reaction to the comments made today by Brian Harvey of East 17, who says that Ecstasy makes people feel better and that he takes up to 12 tablets a day?
Brian Harvey and East 17 are idolised by many thousands of youngsters, some as young as 12. All the campaigning that has been done by voluntary bodies and others may now be jeopardised by the fact that Brian Harvey has come up with those stupid remarks.
We heard some dreadful remarks from Mr. Brian Harvey of East 17. [...] However, there was also a promising sign yesterday. I spoke to a 12-year-old schoolgirl in my constituency, who said that she would be taking down the posters of East 17. [...] Incidentally, I was pleased yesterday to note that many radio stations and record companies said that they would ban the music of East 17.