From left: Grahame
Whyte, Tony Ferguson, Roger Willis,
Roger Flavell and Jeff Christie (seated)
CHRISTIE fans still see photos of this line-up
floating around from time to time, and apart from not
knowing who some of the members are often wonder why
there are five people in the shot. After all, Christie had
always performed as a trio or a quartet.
These 1974 photographs, as it turned
out, proved to be the last promotional pictures taken of the
band before it officially split up in the 70's. It shows Jeff,
Roger Flavell, and three new members Tony Ferguson
(lead guitar), Roger Willis (drums) and Grahame Whyte (guitar).
The recruits had been with a band called Capability Brown,
whose music had garnered some critical acclaim.
Capability Brown had and still have a cult following in UK
music history as a "progressive" band, ultimately
based on an outstanding piece from their second album, Voice.
But largely their range covered mainstream pop music, treated
in an "arty", alternative fashion. The band was
a six-piece in which everyone sang and played instruments.
The line-up consisted of Tony Ferguson (guitar, bass), Dave
Nevin (keyboards, guitar, bass), Kenny Rowe (bass, percussion),
Grahame White (guitar, lute, balalaika, keyboards), Joe Williams
(percussion) and Roger Willis (drums, keyboards).
Ferguson and Nevin wrote the majority
of the bands material, and the band also excelled in
covers of obscure material (Rare Birds Beautiful
Scarlet and Redman, Argents
Liar, Affinitys I
Am And So Are You and Steely Dans Midnight
Capability Browns forte was
vocalizing. Together they sounded not unlike The Association
or Queen: a massed choir of voices, ranging from baritone
to high clean falsettos. Their first album, From Scratch,
which included Liar, was average
and unexceptional. The second album Voice, released in 1973,
was their claim to fame, incorporating an over-20-minute richly
melodic piece called Circumstances (In
Love, Past, Present, Future Meet) a stunning
piece of music incorporating keyboards, a cappela voices,
synthesizers and mellotrons, solo vocals, delicate harpsichord-like
acoustic guitar sections, powerful electric guitar chords
and massed vocal choirs.
The band did not manage to record
again after this, and in 1974 Tony, Roger and Graham were
recruited by friend and Christie member Roger Flavell to join
his group on a tour of Central and South America. They replaced
Greg Ainsworth and Terry Fogg, who had left for other pursuits.
never showed up for rehearsals because of illness with his
father, and days before
the tour was scheduled to begin, decided to pull out of the
group altogether. The shows went ahead without him, and proved
to be a success. It was on this tour that Roger performed
Guantanamera on stage, to much
approval from the Spanish-speaking audiences. The group also
performed another song specially for the Latin fans, Navajo.
The two songs were released as separate
singles in Mexico, with Navajo
hitting No 1 in the Mexican charts. In Europe, the two songs
were released back-to-back on a single.
The Capability Brown members incorporated
two of their songs into the Christie stage sets covers
of Rare Bird's Redman,
and Argent's Liar. There was
an interesting connection here Liar
was written by well-known songwriter Russ Ballard, who was
in Unit 4 + 2 with former Christie member Lem Lubin.
The group broke up shortly after
the tour, and Christie never performed live in the 70s again.
Tony, Roger and Graham reunited to form a group called Krazy
Kat. Today, Roger still plays in a band, Tony is a high-ranking
executive at A&M Records, while sadly Grahame passed away
in 2008. See also History.