Phil Cristian was a member of the Micki Free Band, managed by Diana Ross and produced by Gene Simmons of Kiss. The Micki Free Band, which also featured bassist Jon Brant, toured with Diana Ross as her opening act in 1981.
He is best known for being 'Magic' Cristian, the touring keyboardist and background singer for the rock band Cheap Trick. He was the first keyboard player to tour nationally with the group between 1982–1985, as mentioned in Cheap Trick's biography. His first recording experience with the band came in 1984, recording demo versions of the song "Love Comes" and the title track for the movie "Teachers". He also played keyboards and sang backup on the "Up The Creek" movie soundtrack, making a cameo appearance in the accompanying video as well.
In 1986, after signing a songwriting deal with a small record company, he wrote and co-wrote songs for the 1987 album Flamingo Orkestra featuring Cynthia Manley. The album was co-produced by Stevie Wonder alums Robert Margouleff and trumpeter Steve Madaio. A demo of one of his songs featured a duet with Billy Preston and Sharon "Muffy" Hendrix, a backup singer for Barry Manilow and Tom Jones.
He subsequently recorded his solo album No Prisoner, released in 1988 and a group album, Big Mouth's Hands Of Time, recorded in 1994 but not released that year. Both album masters were eventually sold to a Swedish record company and re-released in 1997. He went on to become the music producer / musical director for country singer and "Hee Haw Honey" Zella Lehr.
In 1999, Magic Cristian was considered to be involved with Cheap Trick's 25th Anniversary performance in Rockford, IL. along with former touring keyboardist Tod Howarth and former bassist Jon Brant, but efforts to contact him were unsuccessful.
In 2002 Magic Cristian joined Cheap Trick onstage for an impromptu performance in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl, his first time performing with them in 16 years.
On November 21, 2008, Magic Cristian was invited to join Cheap Trick on stage to perform the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album in its entirety at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. They performed with the 24-piece Florida Rock Orchestra, a sitar and tabla drum ensemble, guitarist Bill Lloyd of Foster and Lloyd and special guest Donovan. Overseeing the live concert sound production was the former Beatles recording engineer Geoff Emerick.
In September 2009, he performed in nine "Sgt. Pepper Live featuring Cheap Trick" shows at the Las Vegas Hilton along with renowned orchestra conductor Edwin Outwater and special guests Joan Osborne, Ian Ball of Gomez and singer songwriter Rob Laufer.
On November 7, 2009, Cheap Trick and the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, conducted by Carl Tipolow, performed a special selection of songs from the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album in a concert setting for skater Scott Hamilton. Each Cheap Trick band member is a longtime friend of Hamilton, and they performed this special music at his personal request.
Cheap Trick continued to tour in 2010 with Magic Cristian on keyboards and backing vocals, and Rick Nielsen's son Daxx joining the tour on the drums.
In June 2010, "Sgt. Pepper Live featuring Cheap Trick" was performed at the Paris Theater in Las Vegas. In this version the production was the Sgt. Pepper album in its entirety and selected Cheap Trick songs performed with Edwin Outwater and the Orchestra, Bill Lloyd on guitar, The Sitar and Tabla Drum Ensemble and six background singers. Geoff Emerick, who engineered and recorded the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album, was also on hand to oversee the live sound production.
Cheap Trick toured North America late 2010 co-headlining with the British group Squeeze and Blondie. They also headlined a United Kingdom tour in November, and while in London were presented the Best Classic Rock Album award for Live At Budokan at the British Classic Rock Awards. They performed live at the event for audience members including Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, Keith Emerson of ELP, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Geddy Lee of Rush, Neal Schon of Journey and Alice Cooper who emceed the event. In January and February 2011, Cheap Trick performed the album Dream Police featuring The Bombastic Symphonic Philharmonic With The Rhythmic Noise Mind Choir along with Rick Nielsen's son Miles on guitar.
On June 11, 2011 Cheap Trick performed at the prestigious Download Festival in Donington, England. They went on from there to tour Germany as special guests for the legendary Jeff Beck. From Germany it was on to the Netherlands, Portugal and then Spain before heading back to the States.
On July 17, 2011 Magic Cristian was onstage with Cheap Trick as they were performing at Blues Fest in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 20 minutes into Cheap Trick’s set, a thunderstorm blew through the festival area, causing the 40-ton roof to fall on and destroy much of the band's equipment. It fell away from the audience and landed on the band's truck which was parked alongside the back of the stage, breaking the fall and allowing everyone onstage about 30 seconds to escape. Two days later, they performed with rental gear for over 15,000 fans in Lewiston, NY.
In November 2011, Cheap Trick were special guests for a Deep Purple and Orchestra tour of the UK, ending the run at the prestigious O2 Arena in London. They closed out 2011 with a New Years Eve performance of Dream Police with Orchestra at Jannus Live in St.Petersburg, FL.
In March 2012, Magic Cristian was informed that the band would tour without keyboards opening for Aerosmith on their Global Warming Tour.
May 8, 2012 marked 30 years since Magic Cristian first stepped onstage with Cheap Trick. They performed for over 40,000 people along with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Chuck Berry at San Diego Stadium in San Diego, California May 8, 1982.
On July 13, 2013 Cheap Trick performed with Magic Cristian and the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra in Great Falls, Montana.
On Aug 31, 2013 Cheap Trick performed with Magic Cristian, the Ravinia Symphony Orchestra with Bennett Salvay conducting, Gingger Shankar's Indian Trio, The Mind Choir and special guest guitarist Jimmy Vivino in Chicago IL. They performed two iconic albums, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Cheap Trick at Budokan".
The same concert was performed again on September 11, 2013 in Puyallup, Washington with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra and guest guitarist Bill Lloyd.
- The Flamingo Orkestra featuring Cynthia Manley (1987) - songwriter, keyboards.
- No Prisoner (1988) - singer, songwriter, keyboards.
- Hands Of Time (1994 released 1997) - songwriter, keyboards with Big Mouth.
With Cheap Trick
- Cheap Trick: Live At Alpine Valley (King Biscuit Radio Broadcast 1982) - keyboards, background vocals.
- Cheap Trick : Live In Germany (Rockpalast Concert 1983) - keyboards, background vocals
- Up The Creek Soundtrack (1983) - keyboards, background vocals.
- Cheap Trick: Standing On The Edge (1985) - keyboards on the track Love Comes Around.
Keyboard Rig On Cheap Trick Tour:
Korg M3 (61key) - Korg M3 (73 key) - Korg Krome (61key) - Korg M50 (73 key)