Rock star's charity cycle ride bid

VETERAN rocker Steve Harley readily admits that his career as a successful musician has given him a “closeted” perspective on things.His lifestyle sees him regularly touring across Europe, showcasing new music and his famous hits, and performing in front of adoring fans.

VETERAN rocker Steve Harley readily admits that his career as a successful musician has given him a “closeted” perspective on things.

His lifestyle sees him regularly touring across Europe, showcasing new music and his famous hits, and performing in front of adoring fans.

But one less glamorous trip had a profound effect on the Cockney Rebel singer after he witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by land mines in Cambodia.

It has led to the rocker signing up for a fundraising bike trek across California's notorious Death Valley.

He told the EADT: “What I saw in Cambodia was unpleasant but I did meet some wonderful and happy people.

“We think of them as disastrously underfed and impoverished, but all I saw was smiley faces - it was fantastic.

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“Until that moment, most of my adult life had been closeted and I think this is a chance to give something back.

“I am an adventurer as there is so much to see and do. As you get older, you always think have I done enough. The Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth but I just couldn't say no.”

Harley, 55, who lives near Clare, on the Suffolk/Essex border, will lead the 250-mile, seven-day trek across the Las Vegas and California landscape on behalf of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG).

Regarded as one of the hottest places on earth, soaring temperatures can reach 120F.

But Harley will also be faced with even more personal difficulty, as he is unable to ride a bike solo after contracting polio when he was three-years-old.

Instead, he will be relying on his lead cyclist Tom Dickinson, a retired Detective Chief Superintendent with the City of London Police, on a hi-spec tandem.

Harley said: “It's a fantastic opportunity to see one of the most desolate and inaccessible places on God's earth, and another chance to raise the problem of landmines.

“These deadly devices stop people getting back to normal - simple things like planting food crops, trading and going to school are obstructed - they can mean that people literally risk their lives to collect basic necessities like water.

“Being a gambling man, I have a highly-developed sense of adventure, so I can't help myself when a chance like this comes up. Life is for living and I live this way.”

Despite averaging almost 100 live concerts every year, Harley is still best known for the 1975 smash hit Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me), which has now been covered more than 100 times in seven languages.

He will be spending the next few months touring Europe showcasing his latest album The Quality Of Mercy before returning on a national tour later in the year.

The Death Valley trek is still looking for volunteers to take part next March with participants having to raise £2,750 in sponsorship.

More information is available from www.mag.org.uk .

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