Tony Christie: My blessed life of golden hits

Music man: Tony Christies recording career dates back fifty years. The South Yorkshire singer is back on tour.
Music man: Tony Christies recording career dates back fifty years. The South Yorkshire singer is back on tour.
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Tony Christie has been making music for 50 years and to celebrate this landmark he’s released a new album. Graham Walker talks to the singer.

When much-loved singer Tony Christie was starting out in the business the likes of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were top of the charts.

Fast forward half a century and one of Yorkshire’s favourite musical sons is still making music and to mark the occasion he’s released his new 50 Golden Greats album, featuring life-defining hits as well as new songs that he’s currently performing on his Golden Anniversary Tour which arrives in Leeds later this month.

The 50-track box set includes songs like My Prayer and My Sweet Lord alongside hits such as Las Vegas, I Did What I Did For Maria, Walk Like A Panther and (Is This the Way To) Amarillo?

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Christie talks about his faith and how his ‘angels’ continue to play a huge part in his life and career.

“My wife and I believe that everyone has a guardian angel and if ever I am in trouble or not feeling well I just sit and concentrate. I asked them for help and they’ve never let me down yet,” he says.

Christie, who grew up in South Yorkshire, is best known for his signature hit Amarillo which he counts as a blessing, not a curse.

“I’ve been asked many times if I’m sick of singing that song. I just wish Neil Sedaka had given me another 10 like it, as big. “I finish the show with it. You can’t follow it.”

After a career now spanning an incredible six decades Christie says he isn’t planning to hang up his microphone any time soon.

And if mum Iris is anything to go by, he is only just getting started. She’s 94 years young.

Will he still be going strong at her age? “I hope so,” laughs Doncaster’s famous son. “My mother is as sharp as a button. She still lives in Conisbrough and I get over to see here whenever I can. I will be doing more recordings. While ever I am able to sing I will carry on.”

He started out in the early 1960s doing an Everly Brothers routine with a school friend and his first ever single, as Tony Christie and the Trackers, was Life’s Too Good To Waste.

The original master had been lost but a fan provided a copy of the record which was used to create the version on his new album.

“We found it through a fan. We borrowed it and sent it to a company that specialise in renovating old recordings and making them sound as they did originally,” he says.

“It’s brought all the memories back. We recorded it in 1966. At that time we were doing all the clubs and we got this contact, I don’t know how it came about, but they sent me this song. I re-wrote the middle eight because it suddenly went into a Rolling Stones type of thing.

“We recorded it in a studio in London with this American guy who was also producing The Who and The Kinks. I thought, ‘what the hell am I doing here’. He said it needed beefing up so to go have a coffee while he called in a couple of session players.

“When we came back, on the keyboards was Billy Preston, who at the time was known as the fifth Beatle and the guitarist, who looked about 17 or 18 sat there sniffling, with a really bad cold. That was Jimmy Page, who went on to form Led Zeppelin,” he says.

Now he’s brought his career full circle with his new record which blends both old and new. “There are a few songs on this album which I recorded in Nashville, written by Graham Gouldman from 10cc and Graham Pleeth was the producer.

“There is also a few tracks from the two albums I did in Sheffield, Now Is The Time and Made In Sheffield. All the songs are hand-picked and it’s literally the story of my recording career.”

Tony’s Golden Anniversary Tour arrives at Leeds City Varieties on October 30.