With much sadness, we are sorry to have to announce that on Friday 11th January, Steve Harris passed away at the age of 59, after a short illness. He is survived by his partner Kathie Prince, and his daughters May (7) and, Bella (6).

His inspiration and musicianship, so valued throughout his long playing career will be much missed by his many friends, colleagues and musical collaborators, but most especially he will be missed as a loving partner and devoted father by his close family.

In our sadness however, we are fortunate that he has left a rich legacy of recorded material, most notably with his most recent project ZAUM – an ambitious free-improvising large group which Steve has led since 2002.

The ZAUM catalogue – recently re-packaged and re-launched, has enjoyed considerable international acclaim, ensuring that Steve's music will live on.

His most recently initiated project Torque – his 'Power Improv Trio' with Geoff & 'J'm, illustrated once more Steve's desire and ability to keep his music fresh and contemporary.

Alongside his excitement at being able to share his musical voyage with musicians of equal ability, experience and vision, Steve has been a tireless initiator of workshops and projects providing musicians at all ages and levels with opportunities to also share the thrill of musical collaboration – often within an improvising format. Within his professional role as Music Development Officer for Dorset County Council, this has been his mission.

The Safehouse Improvising and Experimental Music Collective, now established and thriving in Brighton as well as Poole is further testament to his influence.

Through this venture and the ZAUM catalogue, and alongside the memories that many of us are so fortunate to hold of him, we are assured that his spirit and inspirational influence lives on.


We have been contacted by people wishing to share their personal thoughts and appreciation of Steve as friend and musician. In accordance we have published their tributes here.

Well... it's just about a year since Steve moved on to another realm and I'm sure like me, you miss him even more.

You will all be pleased to hear however that Zaum have resolved to continue to perform as Steve would have wished us all to do.

Music is a most important thing in this life and Steve's vision and inspiration has given us the energy to continue to surprise the listeners and ourselves with yet undiscovered musical delights we have in store!

The last Zaum recording we made with Steve, 'A is for Ox' is to be released in Febuary 2009 and I feel yet again it will receive the accolades of all the other recordings ...It was truly remarkable creating music with Steve and
Zaum and I think that maybe it will take some time for some to realise how ahead of it's time Zaum really was

The journey continues.......Bless you Steven John Harris.

In loving memory.
Geoff Hearn

Where does the music come from
as you walk down memory's trail?
Each word, each phrase, the melody,
comes clearly without fail.
Place yourself upon the path,
you'll know right from the start . . .
The music and the memories
are found within your heart.

Can’t believe its been a year.

We love and miss you.


Wendy, Barry, Rebecca, Robert, Connor, Ewan, Lindsey and Ellis.

To a very best friend and mentor. Who always inspired me in everything. I miss him greatly.

Steve Suttee

It gives me great sadness to hear of Steve’s passing.

There are many who will miss him.

I had the privilege of being in the same band back in the late sixties and early seventies… These are times I have never forgotten.

He was a great musician and though we lost contact I always thought about those days… especially of Steve… A great man with a gentle heart.

You live on through your works my friend.

Ed Demetriou

Steve's obituary has been published in The Independant newpaper. Click here to read the article online...

[Here is a link to a local version of this text]

Brian Morton. The Independant

We first met Steve and Kathie when they moved into Warmwell. Kathie was pregnant with Bella at that time and May was just taking her first steps! Seems like so many summers ago now. Calypso is just a little bit older than May, and they have been friends ever since. We last saw Steve not long before christmas when he and 'the girls' (that's Kathie too) joined us for a ride on the Santa special at Swanage. It was a magic day. We miss Steve, and will be running together, for the first time, in his honour. We will also be thinking of Kathie, May and Bella, and crossing the finish line with love in our hearts.

Becky and Calypso

Becky and Calypso will be taking part in the Dorchester Race for Life on 08/06/2008 to raise money for Cancer Research UK and would really welcome your support.
Please take a moment to sponsor them. It's really easy - you can donate online by credit or debit card. Click on the button below:

Click here to sponsor

I have some happy memories of Steve back in the 70's, we laughed a lot and we played some awesome grooves together. I will always remember him for his incredible talent and for being such a wonderful person.

Wayne Ford

I met Steve in July 2007 through a music project called Dorset Rocks the Royal Albert Hall!

Part of the project was to give people like me, who had never played a musical instrument before, the chance to learn, borrow an instrument, have a few lessons, play a few low key gigs and then on April 4th 2008 play the Royal Albert hall as part of the overall Dorset Rocks show. I volunteered for the project as I had always wanted to learn how to play the drums.

Well in the short time I knew Steve, he both encouraged and challenged me with my development, and through this experience, he caused me to think about music differently.
So much did I enjoy Steves drum lessons and inputs at our rehearsals and fledgling performances that I managed to get through my designated six lessons in eight weeks!

Steve was a fantastic mentor: showing lots of patience, and giving tons of encouragement and support. I played my heart out at the RAH, just like he said I would!
I once said to him that during the performance I would surely miss a beat and, sure enough, playing in front of 5,000 people I did - but it didn't matter and from then on I was able to play with the freedom he encouraged.

I still have a way to go, but Steve certainly set me off on my journey and I will be forever grateful to him.

Gary. Youthworker, Dorset

I remember seeing him play with amazorblades and with ten men and pinski zoo and just loved the energy and skill, and then I remmeber chatting a couple of times after gigs in brighton and he was so calm and unassuming – what a loss...


Steve's obituary has been published in the Guardian newpaper. You can click here to read the article online...

[Here is a link to a local version of this text]

John Fordham and Dan Somogyi

I remember him walking onto the school field and making us feel so cool and special as we discussed our project.

Steve instilled in us a sense of purpose, confidence and above all gave us a vehicle to do something really worthwhile that would, and has, stayed with us for the rest of our lives.

He brought together students from different schools and backgrounds who had a common passion and a huge range of abilities. Steve always made us work hard and challenged the abilities he knew we had. We were always treated like musicians rather than kids and involved in all steps of production. We learnt far more from these projects about life and people than school could ever teach us.

The seasoned and famous! musicians collaborated, encouraged, supported and inspired us to be a part of the most life changing experience. It was to have far more outreaching consequences than anyone could have envisaged.

We hero worshipped Steve who got grumpy when he was tired, chewed gum excessively when he was concentrating or listening and agreed with my mother far too much about qualities of mine that needed some work!

The Inner Station, Motorway project and all the other experiences will live on in the stories we tell younger siblings and our children.

Your influence and impact on our lives has shaped who we are and will never end. You are a part of us and we take you with us in all we do.

Freya, Naomi and The Vokes Family

I met Steve in Banbury back in the 80's and was lucky enough to be involved in a few music projects with him. He was an astounding musician; brilliant, yet incredibly modest about his talents. He was so encouraging, always trying to get me to listen to new things and to be brave enough to try a new approach. I owe my love of Tom Waits to Steve, the books of Raymond Carver, and the knowledge that a tall man looks his very coolest in a suit. If truth be told, I've always retained a soft spot for Nottingham Forest.

My abiding memory of Steve is of our mid-week cinema treks. Afterwards we'd sit and have a drink in the hotel next door and, to the bewilderment of the residents, cry with laughter. It never failed – he'd tell me about something that happened touring in Poland and I'd tell him about something that happened growing up in Glasgow. I can still see him... this big, powerful man, grinning away. What a soul.

We lost touch. Got in touch briefly a few years back, then lost touch again. But he told me enough for me to know that he was very happy.'My two beautiful daughters,' he wrote.

To May and Bella – your dad was a lovely, lovely person. A real gentleman.

John Cunningham

I was so sorry to hear the news about Steve.

Although I hadn't been in touch for many years he was always in the back of my mind somewhere.

I first met Steve in 1967 when we formed Woody Kern along with a friend of Steve's on Bass (he also had a van). Of course the first thing you got when you met him was this huge grin and an enormous feeling of warmth. We spent a couple of years rehearsing, playing one-night stands and generally having a brilliant time.

He was an absolute joy to play with and inspired me to go deeper into music. His kindness and generosity were just two attributes of this lovely man. It was Steve who encouraged me to audition as bass player for a band in London, he even drove me there, and that became a stepping stone for my career.

I saw him a couple of times later by accident in Brighton and Oxford, and although there had been many years in between, it was like it was yesterday.

I know he will be greatly missed

Here's to great guy

Rick Kenton

ATANT – A little known fact about Steve

After regular meetings in our local it was decided that it would be a good idea to have a kitty and every time we met we would contribute. As time passed and the coffers grew – haphazardly it has to be said – someone suggested we should form a club!

And so, Atant was born, a small but perfectly formed society including a Chairman, a “bean counter”  as Steve fondly called the Accountant, a Secretary – we're still waiting to see any minutes - and an Event manager. As a man of vision, full of ideas and enthusiasm, Steve was the unanimous choice for the Chair.

The main objective during these sessions was to establish what to do at the end of the year with ALL THAT MONEY. Weekend in Barcelona... night out in Monaco... a fishing weekend...

When the time came, the bean-counter broke the news that the funds would struggle to match the vision and then some. Being not just a man of vision but a pragmatist too, Steve made an executive decision. We played skittles in Weymouth.

We will sorely miss our Chairman.

By the way, if you wonder what Atant stands for just click here.


We knew Steve because he was a family man. His children May and Bella attend the same school in Dorchester as our daughter Stella. His family and ours are part of a wider circle of friends who have three things in common, we all live in Dorchester, we all have young children and we all came to parenthood later in life. Of course this makes us very interesting people, but none more so than Steve.

Steve was a very gentle man, he loved to be around children, he had a great sense of humour, he knew how to tell a good story, he was bright and witty. Then we discovered that he was also a talented musician. He had a band, they played proper gigs, they recorded albums, they are reviewed in the press, they receive critical acclaim, they have fans, he has a website (you’re looking at it now). These are tremendous achievements. Lots of people dream of these things, anyone can do that, but Steve actually made it happen and that is difficult. On top of that he did it his own way, without compromise and without making a song and dance about it. Did I mention that he was modest? Talented and modest, that's a lovely combination.

Steve it has been an honour and a privilege to have been counted amongst your friends. We’ll miss you. Young Stella is very worried about what will become of the band without you. We told her that the band will carry on, that the “conversation” will continue, it’ll just sound a bit different.

With love from,

Andrew, Isabel and Stella

Click here to view Andrew's pictures from the service.

I was worried when Steve did not reply to my Christmas wishes, He mentioned one or two times about health problems, but He wrote about good medical treatment and played down all the things, in case probably not to worry me.

It is incredible how His life and His personality affected the other's lives all over the world. When I was a 15-year-old kid I found and contacted with Him in connection with Woody Kern - His 1st band. I wanted to track down one of the members of my beloved progressive band. Soon I travelled to Zamosc for a few days to meet and talk to Steve. He was such a kind and lovely man and a good friend. It was my life experience to talk to Him about music, about his recollections and so on, I enjoyed so much hanging around Zamosc, Krakow together with Steve, His helpful musical tips.

Wherever He went, Steve kept talking about His sweet girls, waiting for Him in Dorset, He was a happy man, when He was buying small presents for his sweet daughters.

He was such a warm and modest man.

Steve! Be sure that I think of You and never forget You, It came as a shock to me when I read the news and that was all so sudden, I did not even say "Goodbye" to You.

You said to me: "Do not always look back", but I will always look back to the time when we talked.

I will truly miss You

Grzegorz Wojcik

For us, Steve Harris was the dad to which loads of the children naturally drifted to, and for some, they just magnetically rushed at the man! And so it was for our little girls; he was Issy’s great big toy, just there for the playing with; and for Anneka, well, we watched Steve drop so naturally into a conversations with her that he made a little seven year old feel special, not a little girl at all, but a big important one, and this no matter what the conversation subject: Once I remember it was piano playing, “my mummy’s great to listen to on the piano” says Anneka. “So are you” said Steve, “it’s just that you don’t know it yet”

As it now turns out, we met Steve late in his life! Our family met his through school - we were oblivious of course to the considerable long roots he had put down along the way to becoming a dad.

Certainly Steve has been the humblest person we have known, and, we expect, the most talented; although our more recent realisation will probably come as no surprise to the legions of friends Steve has amassed over the years.

Steve, for us, was just that, a lovely friendly family man. As faces in the scrum outside the school, Steve was not prepared to leave people as his acquaintances, he dealt in friends and we are so pleased to have been counted amongst his.

As the humblest most talented friend we have ever known, perhaps this anecdote will remind you once again of the life loving gentle man he was:

...Discussing in earnest, as we were one night, the merits of each other's Doc Marten's, Steve said, "You know, this cancer thing is in danger of defining me, people, who are worried about it all will ask me how I am feeling, but don’t you think my Doc Martens are much more interesting, I'd rather be defined by them".

We would define Steve less humbly than that; He was altogether the enigmatic dad, and he stood in the way of allowing hum drum to creep into to our everyday lives; whether it was discussing the importance of music or the importance of some smelly old Doc Martens!

Steve's sparkling memory will forever stand in the way of the hum drum getting into our lives… well only ‘that’ kind of hum drum, instead we’ll leave plenty of room for his unique variety of ‘improvised’ ‘hum’ and ‘drum’!

All our love to you Kathie, May, and Bella; Steve’s beat will go on very long.

David, Sharon, Anneka, Isabel xxxx

Please click view all of Frances' pictures.

Frances Hatch

It was a deep shock to hear that one of the best drummers in the world had passed away. Steve played on some of my recordings he was a mate and sometimes we would get together just for fun. I will miss not just his drumming, for he was much more that, he had insight and charm wisdom and a mischievous smile. I liked being around him, he did not have barriers. there are no words, we will all miss him. A great loss to music.

G P Hall (Pete)

I first met Steve in the early 90's when purely by chance he came to a BSO Tea Dance with his mum in Oxford...

Please click here to read this full tribute.

Andy B + the whole Bottom Line team. xxxx

Steve, we only just started making music together, and now you've gone. Such strength and gentleness, quiet power and wry authority.

Steve played with the community village band The Albion Horns several times and helped piss off the morris dancers at Sidmouth Festival. We were also starting to work as a trio with bassist Dom Lash and were talking about a duo that never will be in this lifetime.

Then we played as you left the church, of on that Strange Celestial Road

We also played another Sun Ra tune

In some far place
light years in space

I'll wait for you
I'll wait for you

We'll build a world
Of abstract dreams
That human eyes
Have never seen

I'll wait for you
I'll wait for you

Tim Hill

Dear Steve,

Just days after we had met for the first time, which was at a gig that you kindly asked Cathy & me to do, we bumped into each other in the street, both really happy to see each other. And after hellos and a bit of a chat, I found myself saying to you: "We've definitely got work to do together", and you replied: "We do!". This description doesn't quite do the moment justice, it's very difficult to put into words how I felt and continued to feel over the years of work with you. It was a sense of having met someone who shared a deep sense of what music and life is about, despite our apparent shortcomings and difficulties. This feeling remains with me always. But now of course it is overshadowed by the huge sense of loss.

Your funeral celebration was beautiful and it was a great privilege to take part in it and to see and learn about so many different aspects of you that I hadn't the slightest clue about! As it was always a great privilege and joy to work with you. You have shown me and opened my ears to not only many different musical styles which I would never have touched with a barge-pole, but you have also taught me a different attitude, another way to approach music-making. And I'm not the only one. We see many people whose life you have deeply touched and who, as a result of your influence and teaching, have gone on to new heights in their own work. You really knew how to challenge us, even piss us off, only to get the very best out of us! Working with you I have really understood something about getting over my own, unhelpful opinions and getting on with it in service of the bigger aim ahead. You have shown me a way and work on this will probably always continue. I pray that the quality of my work in the future will do your teaching justice.

And now, as Cathy said, you have left us with the ultimate challenge: you buggered off and left us to it! I'm really looking forward to listening to our new album; what a fantastic surprise you left for us! We will be there for Kathie, May & Bella when they need us – I know that this will be a worry for you – but I also know that all of us in Zaum and everyone close to your family will do our very best to support them. I pray that you find peace and love - and a good quality drum kit, whatever shape that might take where you are now!

I love you, Steve and I will always remember you.

Please click here for a selection of photos taken during and around the Zaum & The Heavens soundcheck at the ICA in London, 21 Sept 2007


Dear Kathie, May & Bella,
Thank you so much for Steve's Celebration yesterday. The way you organised it & all the things you did were completely inspired – it was wonderful, & so were you! The whole day was a testament to the power of Love. Thank you, thank you for letting us be a part of it. You are an amazing trio & we love you & are very proud of you. We know we can speak for many, many people when we say that our love & support are always with you; if you need anything, whatever it is, please, please just ask; it will be a joy to do our utmost to help. You are very special people & Steve was a very lucky man!

May you always be truly blessed,
With love,

Cathy & Udo

Click here to read Laura's reflections on Steve's funeral

Laura Cousins

I moved to Poole in 2002. It felt a bit alien, a new environment and a new whirlwind of things to take in, places that I was supposed to be and a list of people that I should meet. Steve Harris was on that list. I met Steve on the quay for a coffee, and very quickly knew that it was going to be alright. That, for me, was the ability, and sense of spirit that Steve embodied in people: it's going to be alright.

From that first meeting, and every time after, I saw an outlook that shone with positivity, optimism and hope. I left our first meeting full of coffee, a list of new tunes to check out, and a confidence that Steve was a connection of person, mind and outlook that could really make things happen.

A confession: sometimes I made up excuses to hang out with Steve.

Over the next five years Steve became an advisor, an inspiration, a jukebox, a friend, an amusement, and more importantly, an outlook on life.

Steve could find a connection with anyone. We worked on lots of projects together, instinctively knowing what was right. I admire the way that Steve made young people feel good about themselves, enabling them to leave a project with broader shoulders and a new sense of self-belief. He has affected the lives of many, many young people, changing their lives for the better.

Steve came and did a studio session with our band last year (live drum and bass rhythms – Harris on fire). Again it was his way of saying it's going to be alright. The week after we played at Lighthouse with Steve and Zaum, taking the leap into our first public improvised unknown. Steve's voice is clearly there on the recordings, letting us know that yes, it is alright.

I've learnt so much from Steve, his generosity, his kindness and sincerity. Get Busy Mr Harris.

Rob Smith

I had the pleasure and the privilege of playing with Steve in Brighton (midlate 1970s) in the Amazorblades, in that curious musical moment when everything was forced into contrast by the Punk movement. We wrote pop songs, played them like free jazz country and western, and when Punk and then Steve came along we just played them freer, faster and still pop (we hoped). Made our first single together, and he even lay at the bottom of the human pyramid (he was the largest!) and kept smiling as we piled on top of him for our sleeve photograph. I think that we played one of a bit of everything, and Steve wasn't fazed by our eclectic/eccentric worldview, went with it and added all of the necessary power, restraint and wild calm professionalism. What a cool rock of a man. Miss him,

Ben Mandelson

Dear Steve,
I'll never forget your story of how our first meeting came about. As you told me some time afterwards: you (having newly arrived to work in Poole) & Andy B. were discussing who would be a good 3rd person to help run an improv workshop at the Lighthouse. Apparently Andy said: "well there's this Violectra player called Cathy Stevens; she's a bit eccentric, though!" You said "Great, she's the one – give her a call!"
And that was you all over; you relished & encouraged everybody's individual creative voice. And that's partly why you were such a great Dad to Bella & May.

Steve, I can't thank you enough for giving me that gig & for all you have done for me & for so many of us. You were so generous in your support & encouragement – creatively, emotionally and also practically, giving us so many creative opportunities & always concerned to get us money for creative projects, not to mention paying for recordings out of your own pocket! As I write this I know why I've been putting it off; I just can't find the words to really express what I want to say; you were a real friend & supporter in every way, & that meant to me & enabled in me more than I could ever have imagined. Your passing has left a big gap in my life & in the lives of many.

As for Zaum: thank you, thank you, thank you – it has been amazing! Your presence & your unique & brilliant playing continually inspired us all; our peformances have given me some of the most present & inspiring musical experiences I have ever had & I have found myself playing with a freedom I have never experienced before. You were continually giving us challenges that made us dig deep & that stopped us getting complacent; now you have given us the ultimate challenge, by departing from this earth & leaving us to it!

I feel so fortunate & priveleged to have known you, with your inspired humanity, & to have played music with you – and I will always have a precious & unforgettable collection of memories; some of them are of you sitting at your drum-kit, playing, with a wonderful smile of pure enjoyment, when things were really cooking, or someone in the band was on a roll!

Dear Steve, wherever you are, may you always be blessed & may you continue to challenge & inspire us to explore the depths & the heights of what we are capable of!
I miss you!
With my love & heartfelt thanks always,

Cathy Stevens

What a Guy!!!

I can honestly say that life and music was so greatly enriched by Steve in so very many ways .....a man with such heart,
presence of mind and above all; vision...

A dear friend and a truly wonderful musician.

love to you Kathie, May and Bella,

Karl Wagner

Steve was my cousin and was about 4 years older than me. My earliest recollection of him was when my Mum and Dad used to take me to Auntie Winnies and Uncle Alberts [Steves parents] at Ellesmere Road,Forest Town for Xmas parties in the 1960s. They were always so enjoyable and the highlight of my Xmas.

In 1966 Steve bought me an LP to listen to it was Fresh Cream by Cream – you know the one with the band dressed up as airmen on the cover. This was my first taste of music other than pure pop. It totally changed my outlook on music. At that time we both went to the same grammar school Queen Elizabeths in Mansfield and regularly played tennis together, he was very good because of his height – he had a great serve. As I was quite a bit younger he usually won but would let me win on occasions.

Late 1960s my memories are a bit vague but I can remember him playing with a progressive band called Woody Kern and him telling me that his record had been played on the radio by the late John Peel. Unfortunately we didn't keep in touch as often happens but I did become aware through another relative of mine in Dorset that Steve was living in Dorchester.

I last saw Steve at my Mums funeral in December 2004. Although it was a very sad day for me I was really overwhelmed when I saw big Steve walking up the drive at my Mums house whilst we were waiting for the proceedings to start. It really helped me get through the day.

I knew he had been ill but was under the impression that he had got over the worst and his death was a big shock.

Philip Harris


Some of my memories of Steve Harris

I first met Steve whilst working part time at Virgin Records in Brighton (where Boots now reside) from 1974 to79...

Please click here to read this tribute.

Andy Henley

Steve was my lovely friend and he made my world so much brighter. We could talk for hours about anything. We met in the playground at school and when he gave me a lift home we would chat for ages until Steve would say – get out of my car woman I've got to get to work! He was very special to me and I loved him dearly. I feel privileged to have had Steve as my friend and I will miss him forever.

Jeannie xxxxxx

Steve was a kind and honourable man.
He was my buddy.
When he saw me he said – Eadie you are such a dude and he always shared his favourite ginger chocolate with me.
He was great at music and let me have a go on his drums.
When I was ill he did painting with me.
He was a lot of fun. I used to have so much fun that I didn't want to go.
Steve was my special buddy and I really miss him.

I love you steve xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Eadie (age 8)

I haven't seen Steve for many years - he gave me drum lessons in Banbury when I was about 15. He knew what was important, getting me to think about & feel the music and what I was doing and this has stayed with me always. He very kindly came with me & my family to Birmingham
to help us buy my 1st drum kit and make sure I got a decent one. I still have the same kit - it's excellent - I will keep this kit forever!

I always remembered him and after finishing uni, then getting into jazz, wanted to meet him, see him play & learn from him again. So when I came back to visit my parents' in Banbury, I asked after him but he had moved on. I wondered when I would get another chance to meet him again and maybe learn from some of the wisdom that would have gone over my head as a 15 year-old. Now, I am only grateful for the time I had with him, what he has done for me and the massive influence he has had. Thankyou so much Steve!

Oscar Challenger

I haven't seen Steve for many years - he gave me drum lessons in Banbury when I was about 15. He knew what was important, getting me to think about & feel the music and what I was doing and this has stayed with me always. He very kindly came with me & my family to Birmingham
to help us buy my 1st drum kit and make sure I got a decent one. I still have the same kit - it's excellent - I will keep this kit forever!

I always remembered him and after finishing uni, then getting into jazz, wanted to meet him, see him play & learn from him again. So when I came back to visit my parents' in Banbury, I asked after him but he had moved on. I wondered when I would get another chance to meet him again and maybe learn from some of the wisdom that would have gone over my head as a 15 year-old. Now, I am only grateful for the time I had with him, what he has done for me and the massive influence he has had. Thankyou so much Steve!

Oscar Challenger

Sad to hear the news. I played with Steve in 1977/1978 in Amazorblades. He was a great drummer and a very cheerful companion. When he joined the band I used to say 'great drumming Steve' after each show, until it became almost a joke. But his drumming always was great so I kept saying it. He always laughed, he laughed alot. I only saw Steve once after that, and very brief moment, but I never forgot him.

My feelings go out to his family, you were lucky to have such a lovely man amongst you.

Chopper aka Ray Cooper

Steve, Geoff Hearn, Nigel Thomas and I performed as "Ten Men" in Brighton at the end of the ‘70s. I was the youngest of the four, being just out of my teens and living on my own for the first time. Steve, Nigel and Geoff became my big brothers, and my teachers. Steve in particular took it upon himself to educate me musically, and made me tapes from his vast eclectic collection. The incredible music he turned me on to has become the music of my life, which I still jam to and listen to daily. Playing in "Ten Men" in rehearsals or onstage was bliss. It was searing and  intense, wild and uninhibited, deeply religious, and side-splittingly comical and absurd, all at the same time. And of course each time we played it was completely unpredictable. And Steve was really at the core of it, the powerful dynamo, arms and legs pulsing on the 16ths. Steve was a spiritual  and musical mentor to me. I feel so lucky to have known him.

Josh Greifer

I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Harris, and not wanting to sound like a cliche, It seems true that the good die young. Although I had not seen him for a number of years, I often thought about him, and wondered what he was doing.

I first met steve while working at 'House of Holland' near Banbury, and I liked him straight away, He always seemed to approch life with a smile, no matter how boring the job was.

As soon as I found out he was a drummer I roped him in for the odd gig playing drums for an Irish showband I was playing with at the time, and he happily stepped in with no rehearsal, and proceeded to blow us away with his ability. Although the music was probably not all to his taste, he never let it show and allways gave his best, Happy memories indeed.

I wish we could have talked and joked one last time. God bless

Derek Townsend

Please click here to read this kind tribute from Mick and Jill

Mick Rafferty

I auditioned and got the gig with Barracuda in '71(I think)- One time I'd written yet another truly awful song with no clue about an arrangement, and I said to Steve 'just improvise'. The doom laden atmosphere I sought was so perfectly met that I was grinning like an idiot, such was Steve's empathy – I know all the other musicians out there will be nodding in agreement. An empathic, joyous musician who could make thunder, or gentle rain. A man who gave so much of his time to me, patiently answering all the inane questions of an 18 year old. He never ever lost his temper with me – even when HE had to hire guitars for me, as my Strat had been stolen. I always felt childlike in Steve's presence and his gentle teasing was inevitable but never hurtful. So many memories, thanks old mate.

David Eppel

I have such good memories of Steve from the early '70's when I sang and played keyboards for Barracuda in which Steve played the drums (the yellow Ludwig kit). Even then his precision and power, coupled with his extraordinary 'feel' for music made him one of the most admired and sought after drummers in the area. His passion for music was contagious and I learned so much from him at a key period in my musical development. I also remember him having me in stitches with his unique humour on the many long van journeys to the next gig. As all these messages show, he will be greatly missed.

Bruno Brunning

Steve was a fantastic drummer, a great teacher and an inspiration to people of all ages and abilities.

We worked together in the early nineties, running many dance/music projects including the M40 project, 'Future Shock' with over fifty people with learning disabilities and 'One Heart' at Bliss Mill in Chipping Norton.

Steve wrote all the songs and music for 'One Heart' and I particularly remember him encouraging the elderly residents of a day centre to reminisce about their experiences. They loved him!

I feel privileged to have worked with him and will never forget him.

My thoughts are with Kathie, May and Bella and friends.

Nicole Thomson

It had been windy for quite a while now. The otherwise tranquil sound of the wind chime became irritating during those sleepless nights.

On that evening, pacing aimlessly through the deserted streets, the wind had finally stopped his relentless stirring making place for the rain.

The wind chime hung motionless, my friend had left the town and things could never be the same again but I knew eventually Steve was at peace.

Dear Kathie, there will be a time when the town feels deserted, know I am not far away.


I knew Steve in Banbury around the early to mid 80s when I got to play with him in various groupings. These were lovely, memorable times for me and what I remember about Steve is not just his fantastic musicianship (how he drove us all along with his ever-changing rhythms, catching and beginning waves of ideas from his central position in the music) but also his generosity; Steve played happily with much less talented musicians, like me, and he was always full of encouragement and sincere praise and his presence always made for a friendly enviroment for us all.

Steve Harris, you were and are a gentle giant. I love you.
My heart goes out to Cathy, May and Bella.

Terry Breeze


Our speech

My Dad and my friend is the most lovely person in the whole universe !! He played lots of games with us and he was very funny his favourite joke was (why did the banana go to the Doctor? Because he was not peeling very well)

(May) and when I wanted to watch Tracey Beaker he always changed the channel to Football!

(India) Steve was a very good and kind man.
on my 8 th birthday he went on stage at Upton House, he sang happy birthday.

And all are pets said "we love you Steve!"

(Stella) Our special way of saying hello was: Steve would lower his head, and I would plant a kiss on the top of it. It was special to him.

(Maya) On my birthday Steve brought me a special top it had flowers all over it. He was a nice friend of mine.

(Bella) Daddy took me to the rock pool and we caught crabs then we had ice cream I love daddy.


A poem for Steve!

Steve is wonderful Steve is bright, Steve is the cool' est man in the sight. We play all day we laugh all night. We sing like a bird that's out of sight lets make a house full of fun. We can do it lets get to gether yeah! The end

By India, May, Bella, Maya


May, Bella and friends

I first met Steve in a little pub in Mansfield playing with a band in the early 70's, as I was a drummer myself I was immediately impressed with the power of his playing and with the colour of his kit, it was yellow and quite different at the time. We had a chat after the gig and got along great. Over the years I have seen him play lots of times and have always been impressed with his ability to create lots of interesting rhythms within whatever music he was playing. Always very modest and encouraging my own playing abilities at every opportunity. We were both Forest fans and enjoyed many good times at the City Ground Nottingham. We also had lots of good times in Brighton in the mid 70's, Steve was in a band called Amazorblades and they were great, we also went to lots of good gigs together, one of the finest being Little Feat, the drummer Ritchie Hayward being one of our favourites of all time. Over the years we saw each other as much as possible when he had a gig or just socially whenever time allowed. I saw Zaum in May of last year and thought they were very good and Steve was enjoying it a lot.,. He Stayed with me after the gig and we were laughing and joking till late. I never saw him again although we exchanged emails and phone calls. What a lovely friend and generous person to have known all these years, I shall miss him immensely, rest well my friend until we meet again for that double drum solo somewhere. Your good friend always


I first met Steve as a student at Leeds College of Music. I had heard him play previously with Pinski Zoo and I loved the music from the beginning. I was blown away by Steve’s playing, his amazing ability to propel the music with such force yet to retain subtlety and delicacy in equal measure. I was then of course very excited when I found out that Pinski Zoo would be coming to the college to do a workshop. I played a bit in the workshop and Steve was so complimentary, never talked down to me, even though I was just a university student struggling to learn to play the drums. At a time when I was feeling lost as to whether I was on the right path, to have someone like that offering their encouragement was amazing and helped me to continue on the road that I had begun on.

Through the years after finishing university Steve and I kept in touch. I invited him down to London with Pinski Zoo for a festival I was curating and likewise he invited me down to Poole with my band. Every time we spoke I was always struck by what a generous and humble man he was. The last time we spoke was around September 2007, he was coming down to London with his band Zaum and wanted to do a double bill with my group. I can’t remember why now, but for some reason I wasn’t able to do it, but I remember clearly speaking about how we would have to sort out something soon. I didn’t know he was ill, and I had no idea that we would never have another chance to speak. Steve was a master on the drums, and he played the drums like he was as a person, never too showy, you never felt like he had anything to prove, he just wanted to make great music, which he always did. I will miss him for many things, but his encouragement was something which I will always carry with me. He somehow saw in me, a 20 year old kid from New Jersey, some sort of potential, and it helped me continue to find out what sort of potential I had, and I couldn’t possibly thank him enough for that. I will miss him.

Mark Holub

I am so sad to hear that Steve has passed away – he was a true inspiration to me and never in a pushy or haughty way, he just loved music and wanted to see people express themselves.

I first met him in Record Savings where I worked as a teenager and he was one of the customers I quickly sussed as genuine music lover and he was always willing to share his knowledge in regards to Jazz and Psychedelic music from his generation and I would turn him on to Sub-Pop and the electronic music that was just coming out. It was always a pleasure to share a cup of tea with Steve and talk music.

At the Mill in Banbury they used to have a jam night where Steve would try desperately to make the regulars play something – ANYTHING – apart from the same five tunes they ended up playing every week. One night he was desperate enough to ask me to sing! I refused and got all shy, I said I didnt know any tunes and Steve basically ran through every record we had heard in the shop that week until finally I agreed to sing 'Legalize it' by Peter Tosh much to the dissapproval of the regulars.

Steves drumming was legendarily tight and he gave me the confidence to try – singing over a solid groove like that was easy! Suddenly you couldn't get the microphone off me! Suffice to say that a year later I had a band (Subtrance) and we were on the cover of the Oxford Music Magazine Curfew with the demo of the month – a lot of the music was reggae influenced, and that came directly from him introducing me to Peter Tosh. The following few years were some of the best of my life touring and writing music – really from the bottom of my heart Id like to say 'Thank you Steve'. Thanks SO much.

When Steve finally left Banbury he came to see me in the shop and asked if Id like to play with him before he went away. Naturally I jumped at the chance – I was nervous though cos Steve was a master musician and the other guys in 'Rundog' were equally awesome. I thought I better work on my game so I nervously asked him how long Id got to get my shit together .... 'Thursday OK?' came the reply! Then on the night he said we will be fine – soundcheck at 6pm and then we can work out what we are doing. I set up my decks and looked at the great man ... he grabbed my coat dragged me back to his house for a herbal soundcheck – three hours of improvisation later and I had had one of the best musical educations of my life.

My last contact with Steve was out of the blue – I saw the excellent Guardian review for Zaum and felt compelled to write to him via his web-site despite not having spoken in years. He was charming as ever and it was great to see him riding a wave of music again –

"Yes things are going really well for the group. I live in West Dorset now with my partner and our two girls May 7 and Bella almost 6. It's a beautiful place to live. Keep in touch mate and next time we're up in London I'll let you know, good luck with the music too."

He was obviously very happy and that is the way I will always remember him – Goodbye mate, much love to you.

The greatest drummer I ever heard,

Eamon Murtagh

Dear Uncle Stephen,

I can now use the ‘uncle’ bit without being told off cant I?

It always made you feel old.

I have so many memories of you from when I was a little girl, most of them silly ones.

I remember the time that I was reading my school reading book to you in the living room at Salisbury Close, it was about Doctor Barnardo and Mum kept telling you off for making me say Doctor Banana. She said that you would make me say it at school.

Do you remember when you shut me in your bass drum case in Nana and Grandad’s front room at Forest Town?

And what about the infamous ‘buzzy bees’? (The bees were your fingers coming to tickle me and you would have me howling with laughter long before the fingers got anywhere near me.) Those bees lasted for years!

One summer I came to stay with you for a week when you lived in Banbury and I had the most fantastic time. Your lifestyle was so different to my Mum and Dad’s, and when you are a child that is so cool isn’t it?

When I married Robert we asked you to do a reading at the service and of course you said you would but I was so surprised at how nervous you were.

I remember when you phoned me to thank me for the first handmade card I sent you. You were so proud that I had found my creative side at last!

I want to thank you for all the memories I have of the times I spent with you and all the encouragement and love you have shown over the years. You have been more of an inspiration in my life than I realised and I shall miss you enormously.

I can’t believe you are gone.

Love always


I first met Steve when I was working with Meltdown towards a gig in Oxford. The gig went well and I was staggered at how just how good a drummer he was, and how unknown to me. We subsequently became good friends, I worked for him with the Dorset Youth jazz Orchestra, and we were in regular email contact about ambitious projects we could do together. Sadly they'll never happen now, but I have my memories, and my copies of ZAUM CDs that Steve sent. One result of my appreciation of these has been a dedication of one chapter to Steve and ZAUM in my forthcoming book – a philosophical look at jazz composing. Here's the opening paragraph:

'This chapter's dedicatee, Steve Harris's group ZAUM, has created, in their live performances and in their CDs, sets of miniatures which show distinct compositional form, with some moments of aggression, alongside some moments of pure beauty. To my ear they could have been composed, yet I am told that they were completely improvised in performance. Some of the sounds are undeniably jazz, some could have been created from music written by a contemporary classical composer. They provide a completely satisfying experience in an area where, for me, – because of the risk taking? because of my preference for some kind of underlying form?– this is rare.'

My condolences to Kathie and the children, and my thanks to Steve.

Graham Collier

I am totally gutted by this news.

Steve, in the short time that I have known him, has had such an influence on me.

I came to the improv evenings via Cathy and Udo, and when I first attended, I was in such admiration of Steve's playing, that I thought that I could never take part.

I introduced myself, and he, straight away made me feel so at ease.

His playing inspired me to improve my chops, as they would help in being able to communicate the music.

I had no idea that he was suffering from cancer, although, I sensed something, as time passed, when he missed some evenings.

He seemed to handle himself with such dignity through all of this, that he can only be described as a real trooper, a true professional.

I will truly miss him, and I am so glad that he was part of my musical journey.

With much love to all of his family and friends.

Alex R Mundy

I first met Steve six years ago, when we set up SoundStorm, our music development agency here in Dorset. We both came into what were brand new posts at the same time. We had a blast.

Steve and I rapidly discovered we had many mutual friends from the jazz world, and a common ethos regarding life in general and the teaching of music in particular.The post of Music Development Officer was the perfect day job for him, and he realised it even on applying. His original application form makes hilarious reading. He wrote cheekily "I just got lucky!"even before the interviews had been conducted. The job gave him financial security and the creative space to re-energise his playing career. Perks included a trip to New York working with Jim Black, whose playing he loved, and a visit to Seville to the WOMEX World Music Expo. Steve repaid the faith shown in him numerous times over, and his temporary contract was soon made permanent.

Shortly after being appointed, we spent many hours one afternoon agonising over a name for our new agency at the Haven Hotel on Sandbanks in Poole, looking out over the beautiful harbour. We eventually settled on SoundStorm, more out of desperation and alcoholic inducement than design. But it stuck. Some amazing projects took place over the next 6 years, involving the most fantastic musicians from across the world and genres, plus Steve himself, of course.

Steve always used to astound me with his range of contacts. You would mention a musician you admired or a band you were into in the past and he would nonchalantly state, "I used to play with him" or "I know him." In Seville at WOMEX, we bumped into Ben Mandelson, one of the organisers. Steve, it turned out, had played with him in the Amazorblades years before. On one of our endless discussions about music on a road trip, I stated I'd been into The Stranglers when younger; Steve recounted a story about doing painting and decorating jobs in Brighton with Dave Greenfield, their keyboard player. He had a fantastic ability to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds. After one of our first days working together, a 6 year old participant wrote: "Thank you for the best day of my life." This was down to Steve. All his workshops began with a blank canvas. He hated prescriptive teaching, preferring that the kids discover sounds and a musical place themselves.

He was much more than a colleague, of course – a great friend, too. My little boy, Stanley, adored "Big Steve". A huge Nottingham Forest fan, he would ridicule my commitment to football when occasionally I wouldn't know who Norwich were playing on a particular weekend. Even when he was very ill, on the Saturday before he died, we still watched the football results together.

Steve was incredibly supportive and encouraging, as well as ridiculously modest about his own abilities. He never plugged ZAUM or said anything about the amazing reviews he'd be getting. I would have to tell people on his behalf and, embarrassed, he'd quickly change the subject, In fact, Steve gave me very little clue as to his vast musical pedigree - bits filtered out now and then but it's only now that I'm getting the full picture. A truly lovely man, I miss him greatly already.

Daniel Somogyi

It is difficult to put down anything about Him at the moment, being as shocked as we all are, anyway, a few memories here.

He was unbelievably open-minded and sensible artist: playing together in Zone K we were all stunned by how easily and without any long rehearsals we were able to play and create the music together. His contribution to it was amazing - I was telling Him often that I consider Him as a poet of drumming. Yes, by playing drums he was definitely telling poems and stories which is very rare, and, to quote my master, prof. Bukowski " Is a sign of a proper transmission from spiritual to audible world "...Great artist, great personality, absolutely charming person - I will remember Him always...

Rest in peace, dear Steve

Photo taken by me during our tour of Zone K in Poland in Summer 2005. I am sending it to you as well, as it shows all the beauty and spiritual nature of Steve - he was definitely a man of a deep spirit.

Voytek Konikiewicz

Voytek has started a myspace blog in the memory of Steve. Click here to visit it.

STEVE HARRIS - so much sadness at his passing away.
Steve was a fantastically open hearted selfless player and complete charmer, that I can't really believe he's gone- he never sought the big image and was the most generous musician I met. But we all knew how superb a player and a person he was – he had the unique knack of making you feel that he played only for you, and that you were special too. We had so many memorable times and gigs when he recorded and performed with PINSKI ZOO here and abroad. The adventures we had together as musicians and friends, particularly in Poland, are with me forever. He knew how to be a friend. My heart goes out to Kathie, May and Bella.

Jan Kopinski

I first met Steve when I was around 12. Steve was working on a community project going into local schools and helping kids create bands, teaching them how to play (not just with drums, but with bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals) and giving them the confidence to play live by setting up concerts for their friends and family to watch. I was one of those kids and Steve went on to teach me drums over the next few years. Many of those kids, including myself carried on with live music and within a few years there was a bubbling young music scene in Banbury with many of the same youngsters that Steve had helped gain confidence in their abilities. Many of us are still playing now. This is just one example of many I can think of where Steve put so much back into the community with regards music and performance.

My heartfelt sympathies go to his family – he was such a lovely, kind and generous man, and someone who I looked up to (and still do) as one of the best drummers in the country.

I was terribly sad to hear the news of his passing, and wish I had had the time or foresight to ring him up and thank him for setting me on the path to music, which I have enjoyed in my career ever since. Steve, thank you so much.

I will miss him.

Hugh Edwards

I wanted to learn to play the drums because Steve played the way he did on Pinski Zoo’s De-Icer; to be able to count him amongst my friends has been an honour. His encouragement has been unwavering; from philosophical discussions about the nature of free-playing to the occasional gruff and direct ‘get up there and play,’ he has always known the right thing to say. Now, in his absence, I have found myself wondering about the future, and particular the future of Safehouse, until it hit me. I’m gonna get up there and play. Steve Harris, thank you.

Paul Allen

Steve was the most thoughtful and sensitive drummer I have met. And (as Jo says), a great bloke. I too played with Steve a few times when he lived near Banbury in the 80s (including one or two folk-rock gigs. Steve could play in any style...) and later on, was much impressed by Pinski Zoo. Hadn't seen you for a few years, Steve, but was waiting till our paths crossed again; now they never will. Thank you for playing your music.

Dave F-M

I was lucky enough to work in a couple of projects with Steve in the early 80s and I felt very honoured to be playing music with him. I admired him hugely, both as a musician and simply as a really nice bloke. I became a big fan of Pinski Zoo and they lit up my 1990s with a real passion for jazz... Steve's drumming was inspirational and warrior-like. Thanks for all you gave to us Steve. You will not be forgotten. Much love,

Jo Davies

Steve was one of my most favourite people, always a good friend. I am incredibly sad that he is no longer with us. We first met nearly 20 years ago and worked on various mixed media projects together. He was always a joy to be with – fun, inspirational, supportive. His spirit and the exciting work that he has created will live on. If I had a hat on, I'd take it off to you darlin'. I hope that, wherever that soul of yours is, you're still tap tap tapping away. Love.

Maddie Coxhill

Steve was an inspiration, a true artist and a generous spirit. I had the privilege to meet him and work with him sadly not for as long as I would have liked but enough to have benefited from his deep musicianship and equally deep humanity. Sorry you couldn't make it to my 60th Steve, or I to yours, but the timeless and time-laden events we call music somehow transcend all that so thank you, thank you, thank you for knowing that and sharing it with so many...

Rod Paton

I'm really really sorry to hear that news... I remember Steve from the few months I was part of Safehouse a couple of years ago; he was really open minded & amazingly creative on the drums; truly he inspired me to think more outside of the box and I would like to say thank you for that. Honestly he was brilliant & I had hoped that our paths would cross again because he was one of those people who you always learnt something new from every time he played. With all my thoughts and condolences,

Richard McLester

You don't know how much you care about someone till they are definitely not around anymore...

Please click here to read Mick's full tribute to Steve

Mick Rafferty

It is hard to put into words what Steve’s passing means to me. His departure has left a huge hole somewhere deep inside, in a place that I didn’t even know existed. He was an exceptionally talented musician, who had the gift of creating a unique space with each collection of sounds that he made. Playing with him was an enormous privilege, yet he was always so inclusive and supportive – music for him was not something done to shine as an individual, but was more like a good meal, something intimate to be shared with friends. He was just as generous and enthusiastic working with young children as with established professionals, and this joy in music rubbed off on everyone who heard him play. He was a great inspiration to me, among many others, and I will forever cherish the time we spent together. Considering all the lives he touched and enriched, his legacy will be far larger than the music he left behind. But at his heart, he was a man of simple pleasures. Steve just loved to play the drums.

Adrian Newton

We at Safehouse are not only utterely devastated by Steve's departure from this life but even more completely aware of our debt to him. He was the hub of the wheel.

Steve, your belief that each person has a unique contribution to the world of music has meant that each of us has benefited enormously from your quiet encouragement which was always backed by practical help, enabling us to play and record together. More than that, many of us have felt that in your own way you have given us a little push in the back, an unspoken 'Go on, do it, play it' with the result that several groups have formed all linked to Safehouse and to each other. We are like little boats floating on a sea of sound, all shapes and sizes, all bobbing about, and all looking out for each other.  

Personally, when I felt I was getting stuck, or getting nowhere, you descibed where I was as a plateau – positive as usual, I immediately realised that I was there because of a long climb, I had a great view, and could happily explore this area before, hopefully, climbing to greater heights.

So, whether we're boats on an ocean or mountainerrs or maybe a bit of both, the guy who has drummed all this into our heads and our hearts, who himself reached the tops of many musical mountains, this guy needs thanks. We all thank you Steve, and since words will never adequately express how we feel, we'll thank you with our music, every time we play, meeting in sound waves in the ether.

Mary Potter

What can I say.....Steve was one of the most important people in my  life.

Over the last forty years or so I have played with many many fine musicians in many different musical situations but ......
Steve has always been very special to me and it's very rare that one gets to play with someone that has that magical 'sympatico'. I've lost count of the occasions where we both seemed to be 'of one mind' in that beautiful but very scary place we call improvised music. It's a place where you have to give of yourself completely and you either fly or crash and if you do crash you hope it isn't too bad and you dig in and fly again! I am so happy that Steve and I had many of those magical performances together in duo, trio, quartet and larger groups like his visionary band Zaum.

Steve had a brilliant ability to encourage and inspire people to make music that came from their own personal expression and not 'duplicate' for the sake of duplication and opened doors to new ways at looking and hearing things.

In the best tradition he led by example, so much so that you felt you had had learnt something really important without him saying anything to you at all. A real guru and a true friend.

He was always searching for new challenges for himself and the other musicians he played alongside.

I cannot tell you how much Steve meant to me and how much I will miss him.

I'm looking forward to the time when we can both make a 'beautiful racket' together again in the cosmos!

My loving thoughts are with Kathy, May and Bella and all the people that have been so lucky to have been touched by Steve's spirit.

Geoff Hearn

I never met Steve, but Geoff Hearn always talked of him with love and affection, and I trust Geoff’s judgement.

I know I’ll see him in the other place.

And I know that his impact on this world will continue through the work of those he influenced.

My condolences go to those who knew him.

The beat goes on.

It always does.

Ken Hyder

Steve was a great inspiration as a musician and a great support as a friend. His cares and interest in music cannot be separated from his love and interest in people: In community, in equality, in art.

I will be eternally indebted to Steve for his encouragement, his friendship, and the unmeasurable amount I have learnt from him without there ever being a 'lesson'. For me, Steve will never be forgotten and will always remain an integral part of my life. Maybe it is too late but I wish to say thankyou.

As Steve said on the loss of Elvin Jones – 'Wake the angels'.

Matthew Olczak