from the Yorkshire Evening Post, June 2013
Jeff Christie hit the big time in
the 1970s. He's lived a rock n' roll life for 40 years and
will close JFest at Leeds. Neil Hudson met him.
"The best thing about Leeds is its ability to reinvent
It's taken years to get a stadium
but we still don't have a decent symphony hall like Bridgewater
Hall in Manchester or The Sage in Gateshead which can host
full spectrum music artists and entertainers.
So many good artists like Steve
Earle, for example, bypass Leeds for York, Manchester or
Sheffield because there simply aren't places for them to
play here. The Town Hall has poor acoustics and there is
not adequate space or dressing rooms for orchestras, which
is one reason we seldom get top orchestras in Leeds.
The other bad thing about Leeds
is the tacky Christmas lights. Also, Leeds United are still
languishing in the Championship League instead of the Premier
Oh, and one more thing, Leeds lacks
somewhere selling decent pecan pie.
My first job was standing. I left
school itching to get out and turn pro but had to get a
job flogging carpets at modern floor covering in Kirkgate
to pay for my keep at home. My dad was old school and no
way was he having a bum sleep till noon just because he
was in a group.
The best piece of advice I ever
received was nobody's better or worse than anyone else -
just different. Try to be tolerant. Don't pick on anyone
bigger than yourself and be nice to folks on the way up,
you may need them on the way down.
My guilty pleasures are Last Night
of The Proms (Land Of Hope And Glory), Old Peculier and
Snickers - when they changed the name from Marathon I felt
I'd lost a friend.
My pet hate is loud, obnoxious and
judgmental people and those who that talk on their cell
phones in public spaces where everyone can hear their boring
conversations, they need to show some consideration, get
over themselves and give us all a break. And Facebook.
The one thing I couldn't live without
is pecan pie.
If I could meet anyone, living or
dead, it would be my dad, so I could say goodbye. I was
in Los Angeles when I got a call from my brother saying
dad had been taken ill. I got on a plane to get back to
see him but I had to go through London and he died before
I got there. It's something I have struggled with for a
My dad once came to one of the venues
I was playing at - he wasn't bothered by fame and fortune.
I remember we were once back stage and Jimmy Hendrix, who
was really shy and awkward off stage, was just sat there
taking up loads of room and my dad just went up to him and
patted him on the shoulder and had a quiet word in his ear
and told him to watch out for me, because I was just starting
I was once on tour with my band
Christie in Australia in 1971. I was in my hotel room in
Perth waiting to be collected for a show, one eye on the
door, the other on the TV.
I was about to turn it off as the
adverts had just come on when I see an advert for Ajax being
riffed on by a lad from Leeds who was a real character and
who I used to know but hadn't seen for many years.
jumped out of my easy chair, waking Paul the drummer up
in the process, yelling 'bloody hell, it's Lionel Haft'.
Within minutes there was a knock on the door and I said
to Paul 'they're here, let's go', only to open the door
and see Lionel standing there. It was just so weird.
I once lived with Ruby Wax. We had
a flat in Kensington and different people moved in and out
and one day this girl came over called Ruby Wax. She was
mad as a box of frogs but we got on great and lived together
for about 18 months.
In the '60's my group Christie won
a 'stars of tomorrow' talent contest in Bradford, judged
by Mike and Bernie Winters.
Eventually we were persuaded to
audition for a new group who would front the new Batman
TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward. We would be seen
on national TV in Batman outfits every Saturday night, performing
the Batman theme before that week's episode.
We went to London to be measured
for Batman outfits. It was all hush hush but I started having
serious doubts about the whole thing, which frankly I just
couldn't see being the right career move for us.
Things drifted on whilst waiting
for the merchandise people who were in Australia to make
final decision. Eventually word came that there were problems
with franchising and they could not get the deal finalised.
Soon after we were told the merchandise
men who held the purse strings had backed out. I think it
might have been the only time in my life when I was relieved
at escaping almost certain success, masquerading as some
puppet on the back of someone else's gimmick-laden glory
My instinct told me it was wrong
and I would be better making it on my own terms singing
my own songs which I eventually did a few years later.
River hit big I was interviewed for the YEP by a
fledgling young reporter called Mark Knopfler, who later
became a household name and not for reporting for the YEP.
I remember meeting Freddie Mercury
and Roger Taylor in Kensington Antique Market around late
1970 or '71 when San Bernadino
was climbing the charts.
My drummer Paul and I shared a flat
in South Kensington with some other lads from Leeds and
we used to buy clothes there; they were either hanging out
or 'working' in Alan Mair's Boot Stall where we used to
get our snakeskin boots handmade for an arm and a leg. I
remember them saying they either had their own group or
were forming a group, to which we asked 'what's the name
of your band', to which they replied 'Queen'. Nice one we
chimed, lit our ciggies, said goodbye and tittered into
our hands - little did we know."