2007, Jeff Christie was featured on The Lost 45s, a radio
program syndicated across the USA which focusses on music
artists from the past decades. Here's a brief recap of the
answers that Jeff gave to questions posed by host Barry
Q) Before Christie, you were in
a group called The Outer Limits. How did Christie come about?
A) I had met my publisher Brian Longley and we offered
the song Yellow River to a
band called The Tremeloes, but they decided not to release
it. At that point Brian felt the song was a hit, and that
I should do it myself. He got in touch with me and we got
it done and released and the song went round the world like
a wild bushfire.
Q) Why the name Christie?
A) The band was named after me. It was the fashion in
the 60s for bands to be named after the singer and focal
point of the group, like Manfred Mann, Santana. It was short
and snappy, and the name stuck and was well-received.
Q) What was the inspiration for
A) I went to the US in 1962 because I had family there,
and as a 16 year old, I was blown away by the experience.
I was fascinated by the old west and by the romantic feel
to it. There was a strong resonance to it and I tapped into
the vein. The song was about the civil war, but I know it
was picked up as a Vietnam war song. It didn't matter, it
was a loose anti-war song that could fit any period of war.
Q) What was the influence for
the country pop sound of Christie?
A) I was listening to people like Joe South, with his
electric sitar, and Tony Joe White, and my songwriting took
a curve into that area and I just mined that seam.
Q) You were called the English
answer to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
A) I'm not sure I sit comfortably with that, but I take
it as a big compliment.
River was no 1 in many places around the world, but
only got to 23 in the US. Was that because of an anti-Vietnam
A) The song was a massive hit, and number 1 in 23 countries.
It got as high as number 16 in the US Cashbox charts and
was in the charts for six months. A backlash against anti-Vietnam
songs may have been possible, but I don't know for sure.
The whole Vietnam thing was going on when the
song was released, but I was a young man more fascinated
with the past. The great thing about songs is that everyone
interprets them differently. I'm fine with that as long
as it's not diametrically opposed to what I'm saying, which
in this case is the theme that war is a bad thing and the
guy just wants to go back to his girlfriend.
Q) The second single
San Bernadino was another success across Europe,
but only made the top 100 in the US.
A) It was very successful in Europe and South America.
It was written at the same time as Yellow River. It came
from the headline of a newspaper article I was reading which
said "Prison riot in San Berna(r)dino". At the
time I love the sound of that, the Spanish rolling feel
to the name and I felt there was a musicality to it. I started
singing over the name and within a few hours I had the bones
of the song.
Q) Do you think Epic Records (the
US imprint of CBS Records) did not push the single enough?
A) Possibly Epic didn't get behind it enough. It's difficult,
we were touring all over the world, and it was hard to find
out about decisions made elsewhere. Sometimes we wouldn't
find out till months later and even then we weren't sure
if they were true.
Q) You also tried a heavier sound.
Did the company get behind you on that?
A) The recording company just wanted Yellow
River parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And no wonder, it was
a winning formula, a world-beater. But from an artistic
point of view, I wanted to be free and write whatever I
wanted, and rise or fall by that. I don't think I had the
full support of the recording company.
Q) Why did the band break up?
The last single was released in 1976, Most
Wanted Man ..
A) That was the last record under the Christie name,
but I did that myself with session musicians. In terms of
a functioning band, we probably broke up in December 1974
in Mexico. It was like most bands where the members were
getting tired of being married to each other for three or
four years .. there were money problems .. and the musicians
union were also threatening to ban us because we fled from
riots in Zambia! These things make it hard to keep together
and produce good songs.
Q) You then released some solo
A) I was living in the States in an apartment in west
Hollywood in 1978 and got a call from RK Records. I had
bottled a lot of stuff in the preceding years and had enough
to make an album, which was completed but unfortunately
the company went down in the recession and it had no muscle
to promote the album. I reformed the band in the 90s and
we played across Europe.
Q) You also wrote jingles ..
A) That was during a period of not knowing what to do,
and writing advertising jingles was something that appealed
for a while, as writing 30 second songs and radio commercials
was something different. But I didn't like the restraints,
like glorifying a bar of chocolate or soap into a song.
It was a fun thing to do for a while. But money isn't everything
and it wasn't the artistic path I wanted to follow.
Q) Do you have a message to the
people who love the song Yellow River?
A) Well, if the record isn't played on your radio station,
write in and ask them to play it! It's a great song and
played all over Europe and it's a classic. I know it'll
probably be in an oldies spot, but it'll be great to get
it back on radio.
Barry: We play it a lot, and we'll
keep it alive!