The Magic Highway


An interview from the August 1970 issue of Mirabelle magazine.

By Sandie Robbie


CHRISTIE are a reasonably new group although the members are not new to the pop scene. It was Yellow River, written by 23-year-old Jeff Christie, which gained them fame.
   When I arrived at their publicist's office, Brian Longley informed me they had been busy with photographers and reporters all day, so I wasn't sure how they'd react to me, being the last reporter to interview them.
   I need not have worried because even though they were excited about the success of their record, they remained pleasant and quite co-operative.
   The only problem throughout the interview was that their minds were somewhere else and everyone wanted them to go and listen to some tapes, and Brian found it nearly necessary to chain them to their chairs.
   Christie as a trio all began when Jeff sent some demo songs he had written to London in the hope that some well-known artist would record one of them.
   However, everyone was so impressed with Jeff's own singing voice that he was persuaded to record himself. Eventually Vic Elmes on lead guitar and Mike Blakley (Tremeloes' Alan Blakley's younger brother) on drums formed to make Christie.
   Yellow River was originally offered to The Tremeloes. I asked Mike how the band reacted when the record soared high in the charts.
   "They were absolutely knocked out, which I suppose is a bit hard to believe," he said. "They weren't at all jealous because, let's face it, they have no need to be.
   "They are a top group in their own right. They sing Yellow River in their own act so that shows how pleased they are about it."
   Why did they turn the song down when it was offered to them?
   Mike replied: "They wanted to go on to their own fields to try and write their own music so I think they thought that if they had accepted Yellow River, they would have been going back instead of forward. They really want to get down to writing their own material now."
   Is there any jaelousy between Mike and his brother?
   "Everyone asks this question and even when I assure them we get on very well, they still don't believe me. I think I was always musically-minded because when I was fairly young, my parents bought me a drum kit.
   "Later on I decided I didn't want to be in the background all the time so I began to learn playing the guitar and Alan took over the drums. I've never been jealous of his success, I think of him as a father!"
   When the record was released, did you ever doubt it was going to get anywhere?
   "It was the same old feeling," Mike said. "We all had records out before which had been failures so we didn't get over-excited.
   "I was working for Phone-a-disc at the time and when I got news the record was gradually gojng up the charts, I really felt like packing up everything."
   Do people approach them in a different manner now?
   "Being in the business for six years made me approach it differently. I didn't rush out and buy a car just for the fun of it. But it was nice to hear from old friends again!
   "I do find that more people tend to run around after us and do things for us, like buying drinks and making sure we're comfortable."
   How does Vic feel about it?
   "I don't see it the way Mike does. It's great of course, but I just take it in my stride and I just feel the same. Mike is a bit excited about everything still."
   And Jeff?
   "Obviously people will sit up and take notice of us now that we're in the public eye. My parents are hanging on for all the information on what we're doing and what's happening. They are very pleased about it."