The Magic Highway


An article on Christie's surprise emergence out of nowhere, from the Jack Bentley Page, Sunday Mirror (May 31, 1970)



FLYING home tonight from an Italian pop festival are a British group whose spirits should be as high as their cruising altitude.
   This trio of unknowns, collectively called Christie, hit the top of the charts with Yellow River - without having gambled a penny on publicity or promotion.
   Now let's look at another group, called Brinsley Schwartz. Two months ago they had $30,000 spent on them when a publicity company called Fame Pushers flew 70 journalists and pop world figures on a junket from Britain to New York to plug the group's first LP.
   Despite all this, the LP is nowhere in the charts, and the Brinsley Schwartz sound is hardly likely to be recognised instantly.
   The moral? That pop fans aren't to be bought, bludgeoned or beguiled, and that publicity can't work miracles if the basic product lacks that indefinable spark.
   Jeff Christie is the singing leader of the group and also plays piano, guitar and organ. With him are Mike Blakley and Vic Elmes. All three are 23.
   "Publicity campaigns?" Jeff laughed. "Until a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky if I was earning a fair living at home in Leeds, never mind paying for publicity.
   "Mike and Vic are even worse off. They depended on their mothers' generosity for their keep.
   "I give all credit to (radio dj) Tony Blackburn, who initially sensed public interest in Yellow River and plumped for it."
   How about the lads who are struggling to balance up that $30,000?
   Richard Blears, who represents Fame Pushers and the group, said he was sure once he got the band's singles releasd in the US, they would become an international name.
   Mr Blears then invited me on a publicity trip by helicopter to a North Sea fort to hear a new group he had just signed.
   But for the life of me, I can't remember their name ...