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The Magic Highway

 

Excerpts from an article that appeared in the Danish magazine Vi Unge in March 1971.


vi ungeSUCCESS: that is to be able to change one's shirt three times a day!
   Christie got dkk 800 (krone) per day in Denmark before their success. Today their payment is dkk 10,000, thanks to the success of Yellow River and San Bernadino.
   Once or twice each year an unknown group appears at No 1 in the English charts. There can be several reasons why, but one is that there are a lot of up and coming groups in England.
   The members of Christie had for a long time been closed to success. But in no time, Christie got a world-wide hit with Yellow River.
   Before Yellow River, the members of Christie had played for several years, without any success.
   We paid the group a visit in London, where Christie were doing a recording at BBC Radio One.
   In a pub nearby, we talked to the leader Jeff Christie, 24, and Vic Elmes about their past.
   "I played in a nightclub in Leeds together with a group whom I recorded a few records with," Jeff said.
   "We were close to a breakthrough, but nothing happened and the group broke up in may 1969.
   "At this point I had already written a lot of tunes, which I had put down on a tape, and one day I was present at a concert with The Tremeloes in another nightclub.
   "I played the tape for them, and the were quite fond of Yellow River. It was their intention to get Yellow River on an album, and later release it as a single. But they dropped it.
   "After that the tape laid on Tremeloes manager Brian Longley's table for a while. Brian rang me, and we put a group together and recorded Yellow River."
Brian and Jeff got the two other members from the group The Epics, where Vic Elmes played guitar and Mike Blakley played the drums.
   "The Epics played several times in Denmark, our fee was only dkk 800," Vic said.
   "We know every city and girl in this land. We did have a fantastic time, but we did not get rich.
   "The concert engagements we had in Le Carousel only gave us enough money to pay for expenses and pocketmoney.
   "We made a couple of records, but nobody noticed."
   Yellow River is very commercial. Is it their future music style?
   "We would like to get close to this style of music," Jeff said.
   "It is commercial and we do like to play like that, but it is of course hard to say what we are going to play in nine months time.
   "In this business one has to think in a commercial way. What we are going to publish on records, is very much what we feel is going to be a hit.
   "We would not have anything against playing other people's music, but only if it is good enough.
   "When you have been in the business as long as the members of Christie have, you know it inside out. Both the good and bad side of the business."
   Has success changed them considerably?
   "I do not think I have changed much. Ok, now I smoke Benson and Hedges, and I can afford to drink whisky!" Jeff said.
   "And I change my shirt three times a day," Vic added. With a huge smile.
   Christie has just been touring in Poland. How was that?
   "We only played for one night, the concert was shot for television, and showed for 25 million viewers," Jeff said.
   "The audience were great and enthusiastic. But outside the concert hall it was a bit depressing."
   Are they familiar with the beat music from the west, in the East European country?
   "Yes, but they are not able to buy the records legally," Jeff said.
   "They buy it on the black market. Anyway they know us, several had got pictures of us, and asked for autographs."
   These days, Christie is touring a lot. Everybody wants to see them alive.
   Early this year, Christie was touring South America, where they gave several concerts in Argentina and Brazil.
   There were places where more than 15,000 people went to their concerts. They have since been gigging through Europe and ended the tour in England.
   Jeff has managed to take a short visit to Copenhagen and visit his Danish girlfriend Connie, and to publicise the group's first CBS album.
   It was sold out in a few days' time, but now it is available again in the shops.