with Christie's extensive 2009 set of German shows, the
German publication Good Times produced this retrospective
on the group, with lots of pictures and information culled
from this site! Still, it's a nice tribute to the band.
Here are some excerpts .. thanks to Antonie for translating!
FROM THE YELLOW
RIVER TO SAN BERNADINO
JEFF Christie and his band aren´t one-hit wonders,
rather a two-hit band. What could they have done after Yellow
The story of the singer and bass player and
his group is exciting, with many ups and downs. It´s
a story of clean, well- ordered arrangements and of a rocking
group with heart, hooks, great clean singing .. and Yellow
River still has the feet tapping.
But probably not the feet of the Tremeloes
though: they had the song ready and recorded, but then they
decided not to do pop but heavier rock.
So Mr Christie was soon singing new lead vocals
on the record - and climbed the high which the Trems could
only dream about.
It was a World hit! It won an Ivor Novello
Award! And the royaltys!
Wayne Brickerton is another who lamented a
long time when he listened to Yellow
Brickerton, ex-Pete-Best-Group, was the A&R man at Deram
Records and on the progressive trip in 1970. For that he
refused the Christie compositions, and according to Jeff
Christie, he lost his job.
The band's story began in Leeds, when Jeff
was 12 years young and began to do music.
Five years later, he won a talent competition
in Lyceum Ballroom in Bradford. In 1964 he appeared on Stars
of Tomorrow on Thames TV.
His first band was named Goliath And The Barbarians,
and they played rock´n'roll; at the time Jeff wasn´t
singing, yet. Next came The Tremmers.
With Gerry Smith, Stan Drogie and Gerry Layton,
Jeff founded The Outer Limits: they had a bit of the Liverpool
sound, could sound like The Hollies, delved in psychedelic
basic rock and threw in a Tamla-Motown influence. Their
music was labelled Northern Soul.
Jeff's father Michael supported the group,
helping with starting capital, looked after shows, wrote
songs with his son and also appeared in a teen-magazine
The group's Great Train
Robbery, their third single, was banned from radio
after it was thought the song about 19th century Western
USA was focussed on the UK's own great train heist in 1963.
What a pity, for this catchy, lively song should
have made the charts. The track was orchestral and produced
by the first Shadows drummer, Tony Meehan.
The radio station ban signalled an early end
of The Outer Limits, though they played a UK- package- tour
that also involved Jimi Hendrix, The Move, Pink Floyd and
Amen Corner. By early 1969, the Limits were on the Outer.
The farewell was recorded for TV in a documentary
called Death Of A Pop Group.
Jeff Christie was at a turning point. Should
he join the progressive train, or should he profit from
his talent that he found it easy to create songs with unforgettable
hooks (more than 400 until today) between pop, soul and
Thats the way the singer became a songwriter,
by sending almost daily new creations on tapes, one of these
tapes coming to Alan Blakley (1942- 1996) from the Tremeloes.
His band, always snooping for hits, invited
Jeff to London and recorded some of his creations including
As a Tremeloes single the popular song seemed
to be a certain success. But the group had just been successful
with the progressive song Call Me
Number One, and preferred to record their own songs.
Than Alan called his brother Michael Blakley
who played drums together with the guitar player Vic Elmes
in the band Epics. He saw that much potential that he believed
that he could build a group. Anyway, Jeff decided
to record the song by himself at the same time - the producer
Mike Smith removed lead vocals of the Tremeloes from the
mix and let Jeff sing on it.
Quickly, Yellow River
became the hit of the summer 1970 - together with In
The Summertime from Mungo Jerry!
In the USA, the story of the happy veteran
touched people because of Vietnam associations- So
long boy you can take my place- and stayed 22 weeks
in the Billboard charts!
Jeff (bass) founded his trio Christie with
the drummer Mike Blakely and Vic Elmes.
Christie managed to follow up with San
Bernadino, which became the anthem of this US city
and in the end of October 1970 it was a number 1 hit in
Germany (UK number 7).
Of course, the CBS wanted to see an album after
such success - preferably the day before yesterday. But
Mike hadn't played the drums regularly since the Epics era,
and as the gigs became more and more, the deficiencies could
In the studio he was only on the flipside of
Yellow River single, on Down
The Mississippy Line.
They had to be fast for the single San Bernadnino
and the LP which was recorded in a hurry. Two professional
session musicans were there to help: Zombies drummer Hugh
Grundy and Telstar drummer Clem Cattini.
The debut LP Christie would probably have had
even more hit singles, particulary Got
To Be Free, which sounds like Wholl
Stop The Rain in the beginning.
But CBS made a new song for the next 45 ..
Man Of Many Faces, the frist
project with the new drummer Paul Fenton and a candidate
for the second album.
When the trio finished its second album in
summer 1971, For All Mankind,
with the anti-war gravestone-cover, it was clear there was
a heavier sound, although there was no shortage of catchy
tunes like Man Of Many Faces.
It was clear to see that the trio had become tighter and
full of adrenalin, with a lot of stage experience: Picture
Painter was seen as a tribute to the Painter
Man band The Creation, livened up with Who- and Kinks-
like riffing. Magic Highway
by Vic Elmes or the fantasy-SF epic Martian
King were brilliant as qualified progrock with hooks.
The title song was a dramatic peace ballad,
for which Jeff originally wanted a wind arrangement- but
CBS refused to give an appropriate budget.
Jeff then came up with another promising chart
candidate: Iron Horse wasn´t
easy to get out of the head maybe because of a certain similarity
to Yellow River.
Jeff got himself another bass player in the
band, in order to have fun on the strings next to Vic:
Howard Lem Lubin from Unit 4&2, who made
his debut with Fools Gold.
Soon there were a lot of changes in the band:
Paul Fenton founded the band Carmen with the Chicken- Shack
bass player John Glascock and Vic Elmes soon quit the band.
Christie addressed their South American fans
with new singles. When they were already in the south- side
of the Panama Canal while on their first tour, they were
welcomed like the Beatles were and now they returned the
favour by adapting Spanish songs like Guantanamera.
Nowadays Christie still tours: Jeff Christie
is permanently on the road, making headlines in 2001 when
he performed together with Ray Dorset/Mungo Jerry in Moscow
and St. Petersburg and he is on tour in Germany at the moment.