The Magic Highway

An article that appeared in the April 1971 issue of Diana magazine (UK).


Who would you like to chat with for only half an hour?
Monica Brown, of Reading, chose JEFF CHRISTIE.

Monica: How did Christie start?
Jeff: Well, there has just been a change. Mike Blakley has left us to work with Gale Music, the Tremeloes' music company. He and Vic Elmes formed Christie with me.

M: Who has taken Mike's place?
J: Paul Fenton, who comes from Batley, and was formerly with three other groups: The Contrasts, The Nation and Witch Doctors.

M: How many copies did Yellow River sell?
L: It hasn't stopped yet. So far, our version alone has sold over three million ... but that's going up all the time because it is still in the charts in some countries.

M: How many cover versions have there been?
J: At least 40. In South America alone, there have been 10 versions of Yellow River, and in France Joe Dassin had a number one hit with it.

M: Where are you living now?
J: I am sharing a flat in Kensington with six other people. My brother-in-law is one of them and he asked me if I would like to move in. They are all students apart from me. It is a four-bedroomed flat and I have a room to myself.

DianaM: Don't you want a flat of your own?
J: Eventually, but I have spent all this year living out of a suitcase, moving from one hotel to another, and I haven't got used yet to the idea of being able to afford a flat for myself.

M: What do you mean?
J: I have never been used to having money in my pocket, and find it difficult to lose my old habits of watching every penny. This whole money scene hasn't sunk in yet. In any case I do not know how much is coming to me.

M: Why?
J: Because a songwriter gets royalties anything up to two years afterwards, and I have not had mine yet. But in six or seven months' time I am expecting a nice big cheque from Yellow River!

M: How many other songs have you written?
J: I have about 150 in the stockpile. San Bernadino was one of them and that sold 80,000 in a month in Germany, and was number one in Belgium before it was even released here. It has sold 130,000 here in a few weeks, but it will be a long time yet before I know how well that has done.

M: Have you recorded any others?
J: Yes, I wrote 10 tracks on our first LP and we are now planning a second LP which will also mostly be my songs.

M: What plans do you have for this year?
J: The first six months of 1971 will be very busy for us. We are touring Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Israel, and then hopefully making a six-week tour of the States. We will finish our second LP before that.

M: Will it be very different?
J: Oh yes! We finished our first LP very quickly, but will be taking much more time with the second one. As a band we have changed greatly. Our South American tour did that.

M: What do you mean?
J: Before we went to South America we were a soft rock band, playing more country-syle music. Now our music is tighter and heavier, with more drive. It is hard rock now.

M: How long did you spend in South America?
J: Three weeks. But every concert we played was in a stadium with 15,000 to 20,000 people. We had army and security guards wherever we went, and all this made us give our best.

M: Any other highlights?
J: We were taken on a conducted tour round a jewellery factory and all brought back gold rings; Paul brought back a poncho, and we all had gaucho belts and souvenirs like that.

M: Were you surprised by the reception?
J: Very. We had been number one in Brazil for five weeks before we arrived, so they gave us the full VIP treatment. We arrived at Sao Paolo airport at six in the morning, and there was a crowd of 200 waiting for us, with police and television cameras.

M: With all this travelling, have you managed to see much of your family?
J: No, I have not been able to get back home to Leeds for four months now.

M: Do you miss Leeds?
J: Very much. We have a holiday coming up and I am looking forward to getting back. Ilkley Moor is only half an hour from where I live and our home is three miles out of town, only five minutes from the country. I need to get back to relax completely.