The Magic Highway


This interesting article reprinted from Girlfriend Annual, 1971



WHEN Yellow River was released in spring of 1970, not only was a new group introduced to our ears, but also the excellent writing talent of their front man — Jeff Christie.
   The first time I met Jeff was just a few days prior to the release of their record. Looking very tall, neglected and dejected, he trundled into a hotel looking for his manager, wearing a fringed suede jacket and carrying a rather battered suitcase. He didn't know a soul in London.
   A week later, getting used to his new surroundings, Jeff borrowed a jacket and went down to a club where the Tremeloes were appearing. He knew the Trems because Christie's drummer at the time was the brother of Trems organist Alan Blakley. But he nearly died of embarrassment when the group played Yellow River and asked Jeff to take a bow!
   The following week Christie appeared on Top of the Pops and just shortly after Yellow River topped the charts.The boys found themselves whisked all over the world doing promotional tours.
   But it wasn't to be honey and roses all the way. In August the three of them returned from a tour of Italy and nearly collapsed. Ordered to rest, they had to cancel several bookings and take a well-earned break. There was also a change in the line-up when drummer Mike quit and they had to get a replacement quickly.
   Fortunately they found an excellent man in Paul Fenton, the cocky lad from Leeds who had been an old friend of Jeff's for many years. "Paul keeps everyone sane because he's an idiot and he's great," Jeff said. "His musical ability is of a very high standard and both Vic and I respect him as a musician a lot!"
   Whenever the group is abroad, their manager Brian Longley travels with them. It was Brian who first heard Jeff's taped songs and suggested he form a group to record Yellow River - and it is Brian in whom they place all their trust.
   "He's the greatest thing since scrambled eggs," Jeff said. "I won't say sliced bread because I don't like sliced bread! Brian looks after everything - he's like a father figure. If any of us have any problems, he sorts it out. A very down-to-earth person, he's more of a friend than a business manager."
   There are lots more songs yet to be heard, for Jeff has written more than 160 compositions.
   "They are not all suitable for Christie but I'd like other groups and other people to record them if they are the sort of things they want to do," Jeff said.
   At the present rate the group have been working, Jeff is only home in Leeds for about six weeks of the year, but during that time he always manages to fit in a visit to Leeds United, his favourite football club.
   At home he can be himself - because with three brothers you can't afford to be anything else! All of the Christie family are musical - and Jeff's youngest brother Mark is now playing drums in a group with some school friends.
   But with so much of the group's business being centred around London, Jeff has now moved into a flat with drummer Paul in the rather fashionable area around Gloucester Road. Both typical bachelors are still putting their frilled shirts in the spin dryer and washing clothes that should be dry cleaned — then are amazed when they shrink! The living room is kept spotless should anyone drop in but the rest of the flat is hardly tidy — more lived in!
   Jeff's quite a natty dresser and tries to buy as many clothes as possible in London because that's where he can find the best selection.
   Last time I saw Jeff he was bemoaning the fact that he had little time to shop and buy necessities for his flat, so if you happen to see a tea-towel going cheap and you haven't any use for it, send it along to the Christie pad: they'll be delighted!