Sarah Hardings career explored in previously unseen snaps as star dies aged 39

From messing about with her bandmates to glamming up for photoshoots, these unseen photos give a glimpse into the life of Sarah Harding when Girls Aloud were at the height of their success.

Following her tragic death from breast cancer on Sunday aged just 39, photographer Rob Cable – who worked extensively with the group documenting their live shows, video shoots and promotional activities – has let us into his archive.

Daily Star's Kim Carr goes behind the scenes to celebrate the life of one of the Noughties music scene’s biggest and best characters…

Sarah Harding played a huge part in my early Daily Star career when I worked on the Hot music column.

Not since the Spice Girls, days had a girl and made such an impact – and like Geri Halliwell before her, Sarah immediately stood out.

Bubbly and kind she made showbiz parties sparkle and ticked all the pop star boxes.

Sarah was self-deprecating, so when she asked how you were, she actually meant it (a rare find).

In 2007 when she dated my then-boss Hot column editor Joe Mott it shocked the industry that she would want to go out with a regular guy when she could pick up any famous fella she wanted.

But she'd had enough of those types; Sarah craved realness and stability; a fragile soul masked behind a massive smile and dirty laugh.

At the 2009 BRIT Awards after-party at Claridge's, we sipped champagne, celebrating Girls Aloud’s long-awaited British Single win for The Promise.

Giggling like a schoolgirl, Sarah was overawed that the industry credibility they had waited for was finally in their hands in statue form.

But joining the band in their dressing room after the first night of their 10: Greatest Hits tour in Newcastle in 2013, something had changed.

Sarah and Nadine rushed over to make small-talk but in the air was a heavy scent of impending farewell, and not something either were ready for.

Unlike Geri who wanted the spotlight for herself, Sarah loved being in Girls Aloud and quite rightly so made no apologies for who she was.

They don’t make pop stars that real anymore, she did her family proud.

(PIC 1) Whenever Girls Aloud descended into London’s famous club night G-A-Y at Heaven the dance floor was rammed, even though they didn’t perform until the early hours.

Sarah directed Rob under the stairwell below the stage while he took this shot in 2007 and loved the result so much she had a colour version framed to hang up in her home.

(PIC 2) That trademark Harding twinkle was firmly shining in Sarah’s eyes on the Can’t Speak French video shoot from 2008.

The track showed a different side to the band and the Moulin Rouge-style costumes matched her buckets of sass perfectly.

(PIC 3) Sarah’s playful energy rubbed off on her bandmates and she gave Kimberley the giggles as they pulled off their best girls-in-an-Austin-Powers-movie poses while waiting to go on stage in 2008.

As the oldest members of the band, they shared a unique bond.

(PIC 4) This shot from April 2007 shows Sarah getting ready to film an advert for hair care company Sunsilk with the rest of the group.

It was five years on from winning Popstars: The Rivals and brands were queuing up to work with Girls Aloud.

(PIC 5) In another behind-the-scenes shot from the Sunsilk commercial, you can see Sarah’s sparkling smile was never too far away.

Her trademark short platinum blonde hairstyle reflected her more rock ‘n’ roll edge compared to the others.

(PIC 6) Fresh-faced on December 31, 2003, the girls rang in New Year with a concert at G-A-Y.

In her 2021 memoir, Hear Me Out, Sarah described herself as the “rock chick, blonde bombshell, party girl, the caner of the band”.

But she admitted fulfilling that role of “party girl”, meant she often “felt like a cartoon character rather than a pop star”.

(PIC 7) “Hardcore Harding” proves she can do sweet and innocent in this 2003 snap with Nicola just eight months after Girls Aloud were formed.

She was once asked what she would be doing if she hadn’t made the group.

“Still trying,” she replied.

(PIC 8) In this 2007 snap, Sarah shows off her inner vamp in a raunchy latex catsuit as she shoots the video for Sexy No No No.

Her musical heroes included Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Pink, Lady Gaga – all known for being loud, bold and unfiltered. Just like Sarah.

Since Sarah's tragic death, her friends, fans and former band mates have shared touching tributes online.

Cheryl spoke of her "stunning, unique, crazy, quirky, kind and soft hearted" friend, while Nadine said she was "absolutely devastated" by the loss of Sarah.

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