The Magic Highway


Christie's manager Brian Longley talks to Mike Ledgerwood, Disc and Music Echo. Sadly, Brian got killed in a traffic accident in the 90s.

Brian LongleyBRIAN Longley burst into showbiz proper after dreaming up a dynamic publicity stunt as a cinema manager to promote the movie Deadlier Than the Male.
  The film, you may remember, featured a somewhat macabre climax with giant chess-men coming alive to crush the hero, and with this in mind the astute Mr Longley set about painting his carpark as a jumbo-sized checkerboard. Then, under cover of darkness, he erected the six-foot pieces to confront the passing public.
  And to top off this most ingenious idea, he invited the Tremeloes along to play a larger-than-life game. The gimmick attracted enormous attention, not the least in the national press, and Longley landed the post as Tremeloes publicist on the strength of it all.
  It was ideas like these which were to enhance his reputation, working with acts like the Marmalade and the Move.
  “I began to realise how much I liked organising bands, and started to toy with the idea of getting a group of my own to manage,” he said.
  This happened after he heard a tune called Yellow River, a song submitted for the Tremeloes to record. However, it was ditched by them and lay about gathering dust for a while.
  But brainy Brian had a sneaking feeling the number had hit potential and subsequently invited writer Jeff Christie down to London for a chat.

  That’s how Christie was formed, Yellow River was finally recorded, and Brian Longley, 31, became one of the most promising young managers on the pop scene.
  His career prior to publicity was just about as checkered as his famous chessboard.
  He’d worked in a record shop and played drums in a group while still at school; there’d been a fleeting flirtation with Fleet Street (“I wrote a record column for a loca paper on the understanding that I sold the advertising space first”); and he’d undertaken a period in law articled to Chelsea Town Clerk, before finally ending up a whizz-kid cinema/ballroom manager on the Granada circuit.
  To what does he attribute his success?
  “A most important point is getting to know your group. Know what they want to do musically; try to find out how they tick individually,” Brian said.
  “I know managers who don’t even know the names of members of their group.
  “You don’t have to be dishonest in this business,” he says, but concedes that pop is certainly not without its crooks.
  “But I believe in keeping my nose clean.
  “Simply because if you make enemies on the way up, when you’re down there’ll be that fewer people ready with a helping hand.”