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East 17

East 17
East 17, promo tour in Cologne, 2012
Background information
Also known as E-17 (1998–1999)
Origin Walthamstow, England
Genres Pop, dance-pop, Europop, hip hop
Years active 1991–1997
Labels FOD Records (2011–2014)
Telstar Records (1998–1999)
London Records (1991–1997)
Website Official East 17
Members John Hendy
Terry Coldwell
Robbie Craig
Past members Brian Harvey
Blair Dreelan
Tony Mortimer
David Saunders

East 17 are an English pop boy band group currently 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.

Formed in Walthamstow, London in 1991, the group have 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. Their boy band style was unique occasionally blending rap and pop in songs such as "House of Love" and "Let It Rain".

The group have currently (based on BPI certifications) sold a minimum of 1.8 million albums and 1.8 million singles in the UK alone.[1] As of April 2012, the group have sold 18 million records worldwide.


  • Career 1
    • Formation (1991) 1.1
    • Walthamstow (1992–93) 1.2
    • Steam (1994) 1.3
    • Up All Night (1995-96) 1.4
    • Mortimer's first departure and first split (1997) 1.5
    • First reunion and second split (1998–1999) 1.6
    • Post-split activities (1999–2006) 1.7
    • Second reunion and Mortimer's second departure (2006–2009) 1.8
    • Mortimer's second return, Harvey's departure, Dreelan's arrival and departure and Dark Light (2010–2013) 1.9
    • Mortimer's third departure and Craig's arrival (2013-present) 1.10
  • Members 2
  • Tours 3
  • Discography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Formation (1991)

The band began in 1991 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. Mortimer soon formed a trio with Terry Coldwell and John Hendy.

The group was named East 17 after the postcode of their hometown, Walthamstow.[2] The original roles in the band were soon altered when Brian Harvey, who was intended to be a back-up singer and dancer, was heard singing along during a recording session and was then duly promoted to lead vocalist. To fulfil the role of back up singer and dancer the band hosted further tryouts and settled on Selsey resident David "Pidgeon" Saunders. After only a short time with the band David Saunders departed after being pistol whipped by Brian Havey when David had pissed him off.

Walthamstow (1992–93)

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.

The group was usually seen as a grittier, more political and hip-hop or rap-aligned group than rival boy band Take That, as noted by Guy Adams of The Independent;[3]

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.[4] 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.

Steam (1994)

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.

Up All Night (1995-96)

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.

East 17 also appeared on the Childliners record The Gift of Christmas, alongside acts such as MN8, Boyzone, E.Y.C., Sean Maguire, Deuce, Ultimate Kaos, Let Loose, Backstreet Boys, Peter Andre, Michelle Gayle and Dannii Minogue. In 1996, the group hit No. 2 with the track "If You Ever", a duet with the singer Gabrielle.[5]

Mortimer's first departure and first split (1997)

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 school girl Leah Betts death from MDMA in 1995.

The act went against the group's "boy band" image, and there was a huge media uproar, leading to questions being raised by John Major in the House of Commons.[3] 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".[3]

First reunion and second split (1998–1999)

Coldwell and Hendy later reinstated Harvey and attempted a comeback in 1998 renaming the group E-17[6] 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. A hastily arranged series of concerts in Pyongyang, North Korea at the Rŭngnado May First Stadium in May 1999 were a surprise success with the band's three nights selling out the 150'000 capacity venue. This did little to stem the decline however and the band were dropped by their label in 1999 and subsequently split up.

Post-split activities (1999–2006)

In 2001, Harvey launched himself as a solo artist in a collaboration with Wyclef Jean on the Top 20 single "Loving You", but returned to E-17 to perform numerous gigs on the nostalgia circuit with Coldwell and Hendy. On the ITV1 docusoap Redcoats, the group 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.[7] He suffered severe, life-threatening injuries as a result, falling into a coma for several weeks following the incident.[7]

Second reunion and Mortimer's second departure (2006–2009)

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.[4] After reforming for the one-off gig, it was reported that East 17 had split up again, since Hendy was unable to fully commit to the band because his roofing business which took up a lot of his time. Friction also flared up again between Harvey and Mortimer, who were "involved in a punch-up",[3] resulting in the latter's departure, with the remaining members continuing to perform as a three-piece at various club events.[3]

A Channel 4 documentary, East 17: The Reunion, which charted the group's rise and fall, along with their subsequent attempt to re-launch, was broadcast in May 2007.[3]

East 17 performance in Sibiu, Romania, on New Year's Eve 2007.

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,[8] but was ultimately cancelled.

The group performed at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival on 25 June in the dance lounge minus Tony Mortimer.[9] In November 2009, all four members of the band re-united again in aid of the Born Free Foundation, performing two of their best known songs—"Deep" and "Stay Another Day"—for the Wild & Live! event at the Royal Albert Hall.[10] After the performance, the band 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.

Mortimer's second return, Harvey's departure, Dreelan's arrival and departure and Dark Light (2010–2013)

Tony Mortimer returned to the lineup with Coldwell and Hendy in 2010. Brian Harvey left 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).[11]

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's third departure and Craig's arrival (2013-present)

Mortimer departed twice again with Robbie Craig joining East 17 in early 2014. John Hendy and Terry Coldwell are the only original band members still in the group.[12]

A concert in 2015 only managed to attract an audience of approximately 30 people for a venue with a capacity of 833.[13] 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 small 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."[14]

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".


  • Terry Coldwell (1991–1997, 1998–1999, 2006–present)
  • John Hendy (1991–1997, 1998–1999, 2006–present)
  • Robbie Craig (2014–present)
Member 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Terry Coldwell
(1991–1997, 1998–1999, 2006–present)
John Hendy
(1991–1997, 1998–1999, 2006–present)
Brian Harvey
(1991–1997, 1998–1999, 2006–2010)
Tony Mortimer
(1991–1997, 2006, 2010–2013)
Blair Dreelan
Robbie Craig
  • Note: those in bold are current members.


  • Letting Off Steam: The Around The World Tour (1994–1995)
  • Moscow Olympic Stadium (1996)



  1. ^ "Certified Awards". Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  2. ^ Holland, Sinead. "Feature: East 17 star Tony Mortimer is Stansted family man". Herts and Essex Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Adams, Guy (28 February 2007). "Feature: On the road with East 17".  
  4. ^ a b "Report: East 17 play one-off reunion show".  
  5. ^ "East 17 Featuring Gabrielle at". Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Report: E17 star on drugs charges". BBC. 15 June 2002. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Report: Singer Harvey hopes to walk again". BBC. 8 August 2005. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Colothan, Scott (25 January 2008). "'"Report: Brian Harvey: 'East 17 Will Take On Take That.  
  9. ^ Swash, Rosie (25 June 2009). "Review: East 17 at Glastonbury 2009".  
  10. ^ Pink, Stuart (9 November 2009). "Preview: Harvey: We're too old to fall out".  
  11. ^ "Noi artisti internationali urca pe scena X Factor. East 17 canta duminica la Antena 1!" (in Romanian).  
  12. ^ Glamour Magazine profile of new E17 line-up
  13. ^ "East 17 perform to just 30 people in 800 capacity venue as 90s boy band play in Dublin".  
  14. ^

External links

  • Official East 17
  • Peace From The East - East 17 Fan Site


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