The Magic Highway


Lem Lubin reflects on the African Escapade which rocked the pop world in 1972. From the Record Mirror.


By Val Mabbs


“IT’S true I have gone in a full circle,” says Lem Lubin, most recent addition to the Christie line-up.
   And the full circle he is referring to is his own progress in groups, starting out with unit 4+2, a higly popular commercial group in the 60s, travelling via the Mike Cotton Satisfaction to become firmly entrenched in another pop format with Christie.
   “Christie have got a bad reputation in some ways,” he admitted.
   “Mainly because they went on the road before they were even a working band. It’s easy to get that reputation but hard to get rid of.
   “But Christie aren’t just a band, in fact they’re a good rocking band.
   “When I’d joined them, they had just gone through a ‘we want to play what we want to play’ period, which was completely wrong.”
   Lem had originally planned to quit playing in groups after the break-up of Satisfaction, but a phone call from Jeff Christie changed his mind.
   “I’d originally said I wouldn’t want to go back into another band after Satisfaction, simply because that was the ultimate in a friendly band,” he said.
   "But when I saw Christie work, I liked what they were doing and decided to join them.”
   That was last October, not long before the group embarked on their British college tour and the fateful trip to Zambia.
   The story is a long and complicated one, but it all began when the rain was pouring down …
   “The African group played through it,” Lem said, “but there were flashes coming off of their equipment.
   “We decided we couldn’t possibly play under those conditions and we told the crowd that we would come back the next day to do a free concert for the people who were ticket holders.”
   But the crowd would not accept this and when the groups (Christie and Edison Lighthouse) tried to leave the stadium in the coach that had been provided by the Zambian National Tourist Company, they seemed to lose control entirely.
   “All the lights had fused and so we were in total darkness except for the headlights from the coach,” Lem explained. “People were charging the coach and they had shut the gates to stop us driving out.
   “I bobbed up for a second and all I could see were masses of faces, and people were throwing bricks and bottles. I was thinking, ‘what an incredible experience’, and I wasn’t really frightened at the time. It just didn’t seem real somehow.”
   The object that struck the group’s manager Brian Longley, as he sat up to give instructions to drive through the gate, was real enough though, and the next stop for the group was the police station.
   But even there the sight of Lem carrying a badly injured person hardly stirred any action.
   “I had to scream at the guy to get me a chair for Brian,” Lem said.
   But eventually they did reach the local hospital, though Brian’s condition deteriorated drastically sometime later and he had to be admitted to another hospital for extensive treatment.
udrive   To recoup their losses and to make enough money to return home the groups fled to Rhodesia, and consequently hit a ban from the Musicians Union, which would have excluded them from working worldwide!
   But under the circumstances the ban was eventually waived and the groups managed to make just enough money to return to England.
   The best part of their tour had been when their manager organised three limousine cars to meet them in South Africa … all free to them, in return for the cars wearing a slogan stating that Christie chose the company Udrive when they visited the country! And they were welcomed in similar fashion by hotels and bottled drink companies.
   Back in the less hectic surroundings of England, Christie are now planning their next album, which will feature some of Lem’s own songs.
   As well as spending a lot of time songwriting, Lem also has a contract with Decca records to produce six singles a year.
   Masquerading as Lemon, he in fact produced a very commendable recording of Lady Eleanor, which received a lot of airplay, but was beaten to the charts by Lindisfarne’s version.
   Lem was also responsible for producing Satisfaction’s Don’t Rag the Lady, and a chunky number, Organ Grinder, by Vehicle.


Lem Lubin (left) and Paul Fenton (right) with members of Edison Lighthouse in Rhodesia.


CHRISTIE and Edison Lighthouse are about to resume gigs in this country, having just returned from a chaotic African tour which turned into a financial disaster.
   As previously reported, the two groups fled from Zambia after £1500 worth of their equipment was damaged by fans stampeding the stage .. and subsequently a riot developed when a rainstorm caused the abandonment of one of their concerts.
   The outfits moved into Rhodesia where they hoped to recoup their losses, only to find that the Musicians Union refused to allow them to play in that country.
   Furthermore, their return air tickets proved to be invalid in Rhodesia, and at that time they had insufficient funds to purchase new tickets.
   Finally, they travelled on to South Africa, where five concerts were organized for them in Johannesburg.
   These enabled them to buy 12 air tickets back to Britain, where they arrived after a seven-week absence – and some £15,000 in the red.