Real name: Terry Coldwell, John Hendy, Brian Harvey, Tony Mortimer
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The band began in 1992 when Tony Mortimer was promised a record deal after he showcased his own material. The deal was granted under the condition that he form a group, which was the format London Records were looking for. The original roles in the band were soon altered when Brian Harvey, who was intended to be a backup singer and dancer, was heard singing along during a recording session. He was duly promoted to lead vocalist. The group's other members are Terence Coldwell and Jonathan Hendy.
Mortimer wrote the vast majority of the group's songs, which often contained rap verses vocalized by him to complement Harvey's more fluid R&B style vocals. The group was usually seen as a grittier, more political and hip-hop or rap-aligned band to rival boy Take That and much less so 5ive, since 5ive frequently included hip hop verses in almost all of their songs
In 1994, upon the release of their second album, Steam, they scored their only UK number one single, the 1994 Christmas chart topper "Stay Another Day," which remained at the top for five weeks. In 1996, they hit number 2 in a duet with Gabrielle called "If You Ever."
Following the somewhat low-key release of the album Up All Night, their drop in appeal in comparison to previous albums was attributed to the fact that Mortimer stepped down as the only songwriter. The album's songwriting duties were split among the four members of East 17, although all of the singles released from the album were penned by Mortimer.
After launching himself as a solo artist with help from Wyclef Jean, Harvey went back to East 17 to play numerous gigs on the nostalgia circuit with Coldwell and Hendy. On the ITV1 docusoap Redcoats, East 17 was shown performing at a gig that was held at Butlins in Bognor on a programme that also featured Keith Harris.
On 4 February 2006, Brian Harvey appeared on the UK television music show CD:UK, where he announced that East 17 might make a comeback with the original four members. In mid-February 2006, the group reformed. They played their first concert since reformation on 30 May 2006 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London.
After reforming for the one-off gig it was reported that East 17 had split up again, since John was unable to fully commit to the band because his roofing business took a lot of his time. Friction also flared up again between Harvey and Mortimer, resulting in Mortimer's departing and the rest of the boys performing as a three-piece at various club events.
East 17 appeared in Sibiu, Romania, on New Year's Eve and at the Landmarc in Bournemouth on 22 February 2007 (www.thelandmarc.com). The group also appeared at the University of Essex on Valentine's day as the main act ( www.essexstudent.com) and at the Creation in Brighton on 21 February.
East 17 played the Summer Ball at the College of St. Mark & St. John (Marjons) in Plymouth, Devon, on 12 May 2007. They were supported by the DJ Pat Sharp, and the sounds of the Boogie Knights disco band.
East 17 also played at the Oceana Nightclub in Birmingham, playing a selection of new songs as well as their more familiar songs such as 'Alright' and 'Stay Another Day'.
On 29 May 2007, Channel 4 showed a documentary called East 17:The Reunion, whilst The Independent newspaper reports that the trio of Harvey, Coldwell and Hendy are currently working on new material for a forthcoming album project. The documentary played up the tensions within the band.