very early days: here's a pin-up from Jackie magazine,
and an article from New Musical Express.
NEW GROUP: CHRISTIE
By Gordon Coxhill
It was Jeff Christie's big chance. A 22-year-old from Leeds,
he had written some very good songs, and gradually groups
and singers were taking an interest in his material, but
that all-importan break was still just out of his reach.
Then the Tremeloes said they liked one of his songs, Yellow
River, and there was a possibility they would record
it for their next single.
"Of course I was knocked out,"
said Jeff. "To get a top group like the Trems to record
a number for an album is something, but a single
that's something else. Naturally I was very disappointed
when the Trems told me they had decided not to do Yellow
River after all, and I was quite prepared to throw
the song into the waste paper basket."
And that's what would have happened
if it hadn't been for Brian Longley. The former cinema manager
is a top pop publicist with the Marmalade, Move, Love Affair
and the Trems among his clients.
"As soon as I heard Yellow
River, I knew it was a hit song," he told me.
"When the Trems told me they weren't recording
it, I asked Jeff if he would record it himself, and I volunteered
to manage him. He agreed but said he would rather form a
group than be a solo singer. I knew a couple of lads who
had been in groups but had been forced to go back to normal
"I asked them to come into
my office, and Jeff met them. They got along very well,
and you can imagine the look on Jeff's face when I told
him one of the boys, Mike Blakley, the drummer, was the
brother of Alan in the Tremeloes. The other Vic Elmes, a
Having decided on the name Christie,
the trio went into the recording studio, along with Brian,
and cut Yellow River. A scant
few weeks later, it was selling 10,000 copies a day and
soaring up the charts.
The next time I ran into Christie
was at Top Of The Pops, and needless to say, the
three of them were in very high spirits. "I always
thought the song was good," Jeff beamed. "But
I never dreamed we would have a big hit with it. We've had
no trouble getting radio plays and getting on Top of
the Pops is usually a nightmare for new groups.
"I'm so glad for Mike and Vic,
they've worked jard for little success, and if things go
the way we hope, we won't have to work quite so hard for
a lot more success. Of course it's Brian's first venture
as manager so he's walking about like a dog with two tails.
People tell me they've never seen him so nervous before,
let alone us!"
who does look like his brother, told me it was Alan who
bought him his first drum kit. "I don't think our parents
were too pleased, what with my drums and Alan's guitar,"
Mike said. "I can't remember if I had made my mind
up about a musical career before Alan joined the Trems,
but watching them go from success to success and seeing
the fun he had, it must have influenced me.
River would have been a good song for the Trems,
I don't think we are going to be rivals. At the moment,
we will be depending on Jeff's material, and melody is very
important to him, so our records will always be commercial
"Don't think for a minute that
I'm saying we aim to be like Creedence, but take the essence
of their music, a hard rock beat, and a very distinctive
chorus and strong melody, and that's what we'll be aiming
Vic, who is shaping up as the strong
silent one of the group, is more pleased at being able to
quit his electrician's job again. "I didn't really
want to get back into it," he said, "but Mike
and I hadn't had much luck with our groups. When Brian Longley,
who helped us out when we had a band called the Epics, introduced
us to Jeff, we knew at once it was time to reclaim our national
"I guess we'll be going out
on the road soon, ballrooms, clubs, and we hope it won't
be too long before we are professional enough for cabaret
work. It's a tough job getting a new group established.
A lot of people have taken a risk with us, but we don't
intend to let anyone down."
Last words from Alan Blakley: "My
first reaction was to kick myself. It's never an easy job
knowing the right songs to record, and we always give it
a lot of thought.
"Obviously it was a very close
thing before we diced to give Yellow
River back to Jeff. Of course it hurts to see somebody
have a very big hit with it, but I'm very proud of Mike
and very pleased for all three of them.
"But I might suggest to the
other Trems that we include Yellow
River in our stage act!"