was interviewed by BBC Kents The Saturday Carry-On
morning program hosts Paul James and Paul Harris in October
Well be talking to Jeff Christie, who had that wonderful
record Yellow River. He was
just called Christie at the time; 20 million records, that
sold, which is amazing. When you think today what they have
to sell to get a gold record, nowhere near as many as they
used to sell
PJH: Its a really
summery song, brilliant.That sold over 20 million copies.
And Jeff Christie is down the line to speak to us. Good
morning Jeff, you must be sick to death of it ..
JC: No, I still get a kick
out of listening to it, believe it or not.
PJH: Its a great
summery feel. When did it come out, Jeff?
JC: It came out, actually,
April 3 was the release date, 1970, it was no 1 by July,
and it was a really hot summer in 1970, if I recall rightly.
It just goes well with a good summer.
PJH: How did you come to
JC: At the time Id
just finished with the group I was with, The Outer Limits,
and I had written Yellow River
alongside other songs and I was just trying to get the songs
to various artists
and came across the Tremeloes
and offered them a song called Tomorrow
Night, which I had written specifically for them,
and they said that was the sort of stuff they were trying
to get away from .. and it just went onto Yellow
River, and they liked that, and it went on the boil
and off the boil, and eventually they decided not to record
it, and I recorded it.
PJH: It was No 1 in 26
JC: Its had an extraordinary
life. REM recorded it a few years ago, Elton John did it
in 1970, its spawned hundreds and hundreds of covers.
But I still get a kick out of listening to my version.
PJH: Have you seen the
JC: I have worked with
them over the years many times. I received an e-mail from
Rick West, the Trems guitarist, a few days ago about a possible
gig, so we do keep in contact.
PJH: It must be a bit galling
for them to have turned it down.
JC: Its a benchmark.
I actually had four hits, three with Christie, one with
the Outer Limits, but Yellow River
was such a massive hit worldwide
in the countries
where it didnt get to No 1, it was top 10 .. its
very difficult to follow that so that 20 to 30 years later,
people tend to remember that as one hit. But the follow-up
was a big hit too, San Bernadino,
and Iron Horse was top 50,
but its hard to follow a song like Yellow
River because its a classic.
PJH: You could have become
a film star. In 1970 Lionel Jeffries offered you a role
in The Railway Children if
youd cut your hair.
JC: True story. I went
for an audition and had done a bit of TV extra work. My
hair was really long and I had this record coming out in
a couple of months and Lionel asked me if I could cut my
hair because they were considering me for a part in the
film. I was excited at that but there was no way I was going
to cut my hair, because Ive got this record coming
out, its rock and roll, and thats my priority.
PJH: You toured with Jimi
JC: It was phenomenal.
I had reasons to be at Newcastle City Hall a few weeks back,
and the last time I was there was in this tour, I remember
standing in the wings watching Hendrix play. I stood next
to Carl Wayne from The Move. It was one of those nights
when Jimi had a Gibson Flying V and he had a few problems
with the tuning and he threw the guitar like an arrow, like
a spear into the stack of Marshall amplifiers and smoke
came out, just exploded, crashes and bangs, the audience
went bananas and it looked as if it was rehearsed but it
wasnt. The whole thing was unbelievable.
Just to be there and see that, thats
up there with the greats. At the end of the tour, there
was an after-show party, all the bands went but we had a
gig so we couldnt go. Ive always regretted that
because he showed films of every single band on that tour
with him. The films are probably part of his estate.
PJH: Youve got a
new double CD including The Outer Limits ..
JC: Right across the world,
its been getting fabulous reviews. A lot of the OL
stuff is demoed. Stuff that was hopefully going to
come out on an album, its a piece of its time. Its
not pristine, its not digital perfection, you can
hear all the false bits, it captures the period.
PJH: You wrote every song.
43 tracks written by the same writer.
JC: Well, Im a songwriter.
The album is basically pre- and post-Christie. The album
after the OL disc was a solo album I did in the late 70s
and that didnt come out because of contractual reasons,
which was frustrating. Most of the songs I was just overdubbing
myself, using a small league of friends and players, the
odd session guy. When the album didnt come out, I
was gutted, so Im pleased that the songs are out now.