Steve Hanley (musician)

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Steve Hanley
Steve Hanley
Steve Hanley
Background information
Birth nameStephen Hanley
Born (1959-05-29) 29 May 1959 (age 62)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsBass guitar, guitar
Years active1976–present
LabelsBeggars Banquet, Phonogram, Rough Trade, Newmemorabilia
Associated actsFactory Star, the Lovers, the Fall, Ark, the Sirens, Staff 9, the Reclaimers, Brix & the Extricated

Stephen Hanley (born 29 May 1959) is an Irish-born English musician who grew up in and lives in Manchester, He is best known as the bass guitarist in the Fall from 1979 to 1998. His distinctive and muscular basslines were a signature part of their sound, often carrying the songs' instrumental melodies. He is currently a member of Brix & the Extricated with guitarist and vocalist Brix Smith Start.[1]

Hanley was a foundational Fall member, second only to Mark E. Smith in longevity in the band. With Peter Hook, Andy Rourke and Gary Mounfield, he is widely considered one of the pre-eminent Manchester-based bassists of his generation.[2] He has always been very private and rarely interviewed; for this reason his 2014 autobiography The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall was highly anticipated, and was met with widespread acclaim for its frank honesty and dry, no nonsense humour.[3]


The Fall: Steve Hanley and Brix Smith, Perverted By Language tour, Hamburg, 13 April 1984

In 1978 he played in the Sirens alongside Marc Riley and Craig Scanlon. When Riley left to join the Fall, they became Staff 9, but disbanded when Hanley and Scanlon joined the Fall themselves in 1979. During the first half of the 1980s, Hanley's brother Paul was also a member of the Fall, playing drums and keyboards.

In a late 80s interview, Smith said that "the most original aspect of The Fall is Steve...I've never heard a bass player like him. He is The Fall sound."[4] Hanley co-wrote the music for over 100 Fall songs on more than a dozen albums; including the tracks "Rowche Rumble", "Fiery Jack", "Container Drivers", "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul", "Totally Wired", "Winter", "The N.W.R.A.", "To Nkroachment: Yarbles", "I Am Damo Suzuki", "Jerusalem", "Van Plague?", "Yes, O Yes", and "Free Range", through to "Bill is Dead," which is both his and Smith's favourite Fall song. Steve Hanley left the Fall in April 1998 following an onstage altercation in New York, which also resulted in the departures of longtime drummer Karl Burns and guitarist Tommy Crooks. Smith regretted the row and asked Hanley to return, but the bassist declined.[2]

Hanley, live with The Fall, 1980

Following his departure from the Fall, he formed Ark with Burns, Crooks and former Creepers bassist Pete Keogh, the band releasing the album Brainsold in 2002,[5] and joined the Lovers in 2001, a group fronted by Tom Hingley of Inspiral Carpets. Both these bands also featured Paul Hanley. The Lovers released two albums, Abba Are the Enemy, released in 2004, and Highlights which was released in March 2008. The band split amicably in 2012.

He was briefly a member of fellow ex-Fall member Martin Bramah's group Factory Star,[6] as was his brother Paul Hanley. "The Big Midweek" a book chronicling Hanley's time in the Fall, written by him with Olivia Piekarski, released by Route Publishing on 15 September 2014.[7] He is currently a member of Brix & The Extricated alongside brother Paul, Steve Trafford and Jason Brown.[8]

His 2014 autobiography The Big Midweek: Life Inside the Fall was met with critical acclaim.[9]