The Magic Highway


Jimmy Saville and Tony Blackburn

1970/71 were Christie's glory years, the group winning award after award, including:

billboardCarl Alan Award: Best Vocal Record 1971
Ivor Novello Award: Most Performed Song
Hit Discs Award: Japan
Hit Song of the Year: Brazil
Citation of Achievement 1971
BMI Award USA: National Popularity
Plaque Award: Norway
Ireland Spotlight Award: Most Popular Group
Voted 7th World's Best Group, Germany, 1971
Top British Group in the UK charts, 1970/71
   The song Yellow River garnered six gold records in the UK, and gold records in Japan, France, Brazil, Germany. San Bernadino won the group three gold records in the UK.
   Hitting No 1 in 26 countries and No 2 in several others, Yellow River sold so many copies around the world that it just about single-handedly made CBS Record the biggest label in 1970.
   This report is reprinted from the US music paper Billboard Magazine, November 1970, when the single was still selling and starting to make an impact in the USA:
   "CBS Records has experienced its best sales performance since setting up as an independent in the UK five years ago.
Some samples of this worldwide pattern of sales success are Simon and Garfunkel from CBS in the US and Christie from CBS in the UK.
   Exports to Europe and Commonwealth countries had been particularly good, especially with Christie’s Yellow River which had become a hit in 17 markets, including the rarely penetrated South American field.
  With US sales taken into consideration, Yellow River is expected to be a 2,000,000-plus seller."

Japan gold

Jeff and his Japanese gold record for Yellow River


In 2018, Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuaron released his film ROMA, lauded universally for its beauty and artistry. It won several awards for best movie, including the prestigious BAFTA. It was a nominee for Best Movie at the 2019 Academy Awards, where Alfonso won the Oscar for Best Director, and the movie picked up the Best Foreign Movie award. Yellow River, as performed by Christie, is featured in the movie to put a time stamp on the events of the story, which is set in Mexico in 1970. Yellow River was the biggest-selling single in Mexico that year. The soundtrack contains the song plus many wonderful Latin American hits of the era.

Britain's Greatest Hits

In 2021, Channel 5 in the UK showcased hits of 1970 in its series Britain's Greatest Hits, which features the bigggest selling songs of a particular year. Jeff Christie was interviewed at his home about the success of Yellow River.

Century of Song

Yellow River is featured in a book (2014) commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Performing Right Society, now known as simply PRS for Music. The organisation scoured the society’s records to uncover British music’s most performed works over the past 100 years for the publication, A Century of Song. Through these songs – their writers, publishers and audiences – PRS traces the resilience and ingenuity of the industry, and finds familiarity at every turn. Yellow River comes in sandwiched between Paul McCartney and George Harrison!

Century of Song

In 2021, Jeff's collaboration with Lorenzo Gabanizza, You're Not There, reached the top of the European Indie Music Network, while its accompanying video also won the Golden Wheat Award for best music video!
   It also took away the Best Music Video award at the Alternative Film Festival in Toronto.
   The production got nominated for the "Red Carpet Awards" as part of the Fairplay Country Music Association, the single entered the MTV USA Spotify charts ranking at #3, and the artists were nominated as Artist of the Month on MTV USA Rock.


Golden Wheat

Bravo Bravo

The major German music publication, Bravo, has compiled the most popular hits for each year, as voted by its readers, showing that in 1970, Christie had the third best-liked record in Germany, beating the likes of CCR, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Bee Gees. In 1971, Christie had the 18th favourite single.

Leeds tunnel

The Leeds Song Tunnel project is a celebration of the singers, songwriters and bands that have helped make Leeds such a musical city over the past 100 years. The Leeds Song Tunnel is a public artwork comprised of 60 unique typographic panels, each featuring a different song and artist. Jeff's work is celebrated with a tribute to Inside looking Out.

Music Week 2012

THE leading British music magazine Music Week, the trade paper of the music industry, recently published a supplement to commemorate 60 years of the best British hit singles. And of course Yellow River was among the songs!

Jeff Christie's early band The Outer Limits played a few gigs at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool, made famous by The Beatles who first started playing together at that venue. Acts who perform there get their own brick in the Cavern wall. Jeff visited the club in 2012 to locate the band's brick and was delighted to see it's still there.



The Outer Limits brick at The Cavern Club.


Jeff next to the Billy Fury statue in Liverpool.

For those who want their own Christie Yellow River memento, this might be of interest: a handsome platinum disc commemorating sales of the record, alongside the sheet music of the song. It was produced in 1980 in limited amounts, by UK Music Awards, a firm specialising in high quality gold discs and framed music memorabilia to the public.

Platinum disc

Platinum label


In 2012, Christie almost enjoyed another No 1 hit to their name. Both Yellow River and San Bernadino were included on the album Sugar Sugar: Birth of Bubblegum 3-CD set, which peaked at No 2 on the British charts and stayed in that position for several months!


Here's a collector's item: jukebox strips for the first Christie single!

In 1969/1970, Australia actually banned records from foreign artists. That didn't stop Yellow River from being a hit once, but twice .. the song was covered in Australia by local bands called Autumn and Jigsaw, and each version made the charts. Curiously, the writing credits for the song were attributed to a "G Christy". Despite this, Christie did tour Australia after the ban was lifted in 1971, and showed the fans how Yellow River should have been sung.

The song Yellow River has been covered by a multitude of artists, including the obscure and the famous. Versions have been recorded by luminaries such as REM and Doyle Lawson, to outfits such as Mexican Mariachi bands, brass bands and Peruvian pan pipers!
   For a listing of artists who have covered Christie's songs, click here.

Vic Elmes married Dee Anderson, daughter of Sylvia and Gerry Anderson, creator of the Thunderbirds and other "supermarionation" series. Because of this connection, Vic was able to get a foot in the door of the Anderson stable, and was commissioned to write theme music for some of its shows, the most notable of which was Space: 1999, with its "space disco" feel and electric guitar work.

andy capp

One of the most widely-read British newspaper strips in the 70s was Andy Capp, featuring the escapades of a habitual pub-goer. Such was Yellow River's popularity that the song even featured in one of the episodes.

Jeff Christie started playing at 13 years of age, and at 17 won a talent contest at Bradford in its Stars of Tomorrow contest. At 18, he and his group won another talent show, organised by Thames TV to back up its promotion of the Batman TV program.

At Bogota's International Stadium in 1973, Christie broke the record pulling in 30,000 fans, 6000 more than supergroup Santana, Brazilian superstar Roberto Carlos, and a rising star named Julio Inglesias.

railway children

In 1970, actor/director Lionel Jeffries offered Jeff a part in the film The Railway Children, provided Jeff cut his long hair. Jeff declined and a few months later, Yellow River was released. The movie itself turned out to be quite successful, and it has become one of the most loved family British films of the 70s ... so Jeff could well have become a famous movie actor as well had he accepted the part!

Yellow River was adopted by Stanford High American Football team as the theme song for the Clash of the Titans Super Bowl at California's Rose Bowl Stadium in 1977.
Rabbids Go HomeYellow River is one of many great songs featured in Rabbids Go Home, a "comedy-adventure" video game developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft for Wii and Nintendo DS.    The game was released in late 2009. It's the fourth installment in the Rabbids sub-series of the Rayman series of video games and is the first stand-alone title in the sub-series. The game's plot centers on the efforts of the titular Rabbids to collect as many human objects as they can and create a huge pile high enough to reach the Moon, all the while avoiding the extermination attempts by the "Verminators", who wish to gain back the stuff the Rabbids have stolen.
   The game received generally favorable reviews from critics, who praised the game's humor, soundtrack and accessible gameplay.
   The various levels of the game feature classic songs from the past, from an era that the makers say was more peaceful and less dangerous. Other artists in the game include The Kingsmen, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, John Denver, Boney M, Harry Belafonte, Santana and Janis Joplin.

There are two versions of Inside Looking Out on the Repertoire release of Christie's first album. Included is the single version of the song, but on first hearing, there appears to be no difference between this and the album version. So what's the deal?
   Well, the single version is actually a mono recording, while the album rendition is in true stereo. Back in the days of AM radio, vinyl singles were often recorded in mono for better compatibility with airplay.
   Purists will appreciate the inclusion of this track, but then again it could be argued that all the other mono versions of Christie songs could have been added too. A more interesting inclusion would have been the mono version of Down The Mississippi Line from the original Yellow River single, which was a distinctly different version to the album one.
   While on that subject, the version of Most Wanted Man In The USA on the Repertoire For All Mankind album is not the vinyl version. The song you hear on the CD comes without horn accompaniment, which was featured on the original 45 record.

Inside Lookin Out mono

The mono waveform for Inside Looking Out.

Jeff's musical ability has been utilised in producing other bands and writing and performing jingles for radio and television, the most famous being British Telecom's Yellow Pages advertisement which has been used for 20 years.  Jeff also had to turn down an opportunity to write and record a Coca-Cola jingle due to the band's heavy touring commitments in 1970/71.

Has there been anywhere Christie hasn't toured? They were far and away the most travelled pop band in 1970-71. They've been to Europe, Scandinavia, the Iron Curtain countries, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Africa, South America and Central America - not to mention their own homeland in the UK.



Christie were in fact the first British group to tour South American and Central American countries (Mexico, Guatamala, Honduras, Costa Rica, etc).
In Argentina, Christie were so famous that the TV networks gave them their own TV show, a 90 minute documentary and spectacular with resident orchestra and dancing girls.


Christie set the pop world alight in more ways than one. Back in the 70s, a Dutch company released a line of matchboxes which featured pictures of the top pop stars of the day. Of course, Christie was included!

Christie hit world headlines in 1972 following a riot during torrential rain in Zambia's Dag Hammersjkold Stadium, when the group were forced to abandon the concert due to danger of electrocution.

Legendary US band leader Ray Coniff asked Jeff to write songs for his new album at a high society party during one of Rio's Carnivals. Other artists who wanted Jeff's songs include Cliff Richard, Long John Baldry, James Last, Jackie Wilson, and Peter Noone.

On the first South American tour, Christie disembarked from the plane to a Beatlemania-type reception from their fans, with a brass band playing Yellow River on the tarmac.

Christie are believed to be the first Western pop group to have played behind the Iron Curtain, in Yugoslavia and Poland at the Sopot Song Festival in 1970, televised via satellite to 200 million viewers in the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries.
   Russia's local pop music industry developed as a result of the publicity given to the festival, with homegrown bands influenced by the performance of Christie.
gil markleJeff Christie and Paul Fenton collaborated on some great songs when they were at Gil Markle's Long View Farm, when Paul was recording there with his flamenco group Carmen. Gil (pictured left) no longer runs a recording studio, but did keep many of the demos that Jeff and Paul worked on. One of the songs, Movin' On, has been featured on Gil's site for some time, and he has recently added another: Ba Ba Boo Ba, an ad-lib song that Jeff composed based on drum rhythms that Paul used to sing out loud. Read more about it, and listen to the demo, here. The piece has now been used as background music for a video promoting Gil's travel business, as well as another of Jeff's songs, Tonight. Read more about the incredible legacy that Gil has left here.
Before Christie was formed, Jeff (with his band The Outer Limits) toured with Jimi Hendrix in the last of the mammoth pop package tours, which also featured Pink Floyd, Amen Corner, The Nice and The Move.
who t-shirtThe Who performed around the UK in 2006, and among the licensed merchandise for the gigs was this t-shirt, which reproduces a cover of a 1970 issue of New Musical Express. That same cover has a pointer to a Christie article inside the paper about Christie "going into hiding" to rehearse (top left-hand corner). Jeff himself loves the early Who music, with Jeff's Outer Limits often playing the sort of progressive music The Who excelled in, so he was quick to buy a few copies for himself.

Before he achieved worldwide fame as a guitarist with Dire Straits and then in his own right, Mark Knopfler worked as a journalist and once wrote an article on Christie!

Jeff has of course played and toured with many musical acts throughout his illustrious career. Here he is pictured with Dave Dee (second from left) during a show from the 90s.

Dave Dee

Jeff recounts: "Dave Dee is with his then girlfriend Joanne, a British Airways stewardess. Next to me is George, a trucker who did a bit of promoting and booked Dave Dee and myself a couple of times. Unfortunately, I don't remember who the guy on the left is.
   "Dave was always really nice to me, I guess he must have liked me. I worked with him a lot and learned much from him. A lot of my German gigs in the '90's were solo where there's nowhere to hide and it can be lonely and intimidating especially when you're working to several thousand people and most of the acts are all bands except the odd solo artist like Dave and myself or Chris Andrews. I was always more comfortable working with a band on stage.
   "I played with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich in Boston, UK, in the mid-60's with The Outer Limits in support. A year or so later when in London trying to get another rung up the ladder, my dad and I went along to meet their producers Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley whilst the band were recording one of their songs, The Legend of Xanadu. Dave had just finished his vocal and came up to me and asked what I thought of it even though they were huge at the time with several top 10 hits under their belt. I was sad when he died a few years ago. "

In his spare time, Jeff loves nothing more than to catch other music acts. Here are pictures of him with singer Willie Nile, and with friends at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz Festival.

New York

Jeff and singer WillieNile (centre) after a show in Leeds.

New Orleans

Jeff with friends and brother Lester (right) at New Orleans, USA.