||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2010)|
|Birth name||Anthony Fitzgerald|
25 April 1943 |
Conisbrough, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, actor, musician|
|Associated acts||Peter Kay, Laruso, Richard Hawley|
Tony Christie (born Anthony Fitzgerald, 25 April 1943) is an English musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his track, "Is This the Way to Amarillo", a double UK chart success. He lived for many years in Sheffield, where his wife, Sue, was born. He used to be a frequent artist on the stage at many working mens clubs like his contemporary, Joe Cocker.
Tony Christie has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.
Discovered and managed by Harvey Lisberg, he had three hits in 1971, beginning with "Las Vegas" which reached number 21 in the UK charts, and went on to have two Top Twenty hits in the UK Singles Chart with "I Did What I Did for Maria", which reached number two and "Is This the Way to Amarillo", which peaked at number 18, all in 1971. Subsequently he had a minor hit with "Avenues and Alleyways" which reached number 37, and was the theme to the television series The Protectors. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" had sold more than one million copies by September 1972, and was awarded a gold disc. His early songs were dramatic big-voiced numbers, many of which were written by Mitch Murray and Peter Callander.
He recorded albums regularly throughout the 1970s and made infrequent appearances on the charts. His album With Loving Feeling sold well boosted by the hit single "Is This The Way to Amarillo". He recorded an album in the United States in 1973 with the record producer Snuff Garrett, which did little to stop his commercial slide. A live album followed which sold relatively better. But by the mid-1970s recorded work became rarer and stage work took preference.
In June 1972, he was invited on the music festival, The Golden Orpheus, then in communist Bulgaria. The concert was recorded and published on vinyl by the government musical company Balkanton. He played the role of Magaldi on the original 1976 album recording of the musical Evita, and sought to represent the UK in the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest, with the song "The Queen of the Mardi Gras" but came third in the contest to select an entrant, behind eventual contest winners Brotherhood of Man.
Although his popularity waned in his native England through most of the 1980s and 1990s, he maintained a successful singing career in continental Europe during this period. This was especially so in Germany, with four albums recorded with German producer Jack White, especially their first album collaboration Welcome To My Music, reaching number 7 in the German charts and going platinum. From 1991 to 2002, Christie recorded nine albums especially for the German market.
In 1999, he was the vocalist on the Jarvis Cocker-penned UK Top Ten hit, "Walk Like a Panther", recorded by the Sheffield band, All Seeing I. His influence on a new generation of singers was further demonstrated when indie pop band Rinaldi Sings released a cover version of "Avenues & Alleyways" in March 2004.
In 2002, "Is This the Way to Amarillo" was used in the TV comedy series Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, leading to a resurgence in his popularity. The song was re-released on 14 March 2005 to raise money for the Comic Relief charity, and reached Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart (outselling all the first release's chart run put together). This led to the biggest sales for a Number 1 single for the whole year, with seven weeks at the chart pinnacle. It also became the longest running chart-topper since Cher's "Believe", almost seven years earlier. The single was credited as "featuring Peter Kay", though Kay only appeared in the video; the audio track was the original 1971 issue. His album, The Definitive Collection also climbed to the Number 1 spot the following week in the UK Albums Chart, breaking records when it also came in at Number 1 on the downloads chart.
In 2005, the Dutch singer Albert West covered the same song. This release reached Number 25 in the Dutch record chart. The same year Christie re-recorded "Amarillo" together with the Hermes House Band for the German market, reaching Number 25 in the German charts and having several TV performances. Following the song's success, Christie was awarded the freedom of Amarillo, Texas, and made a guest appearance on the Yorkshire based TV soap opera, Emmerdale.
A few months later he re-released another single "Avenues & Alleyways", as a follow-up to the success of "Amarillo". Although this only reached Number 26 on the UK Singles Chart, it once again out-performed the original release, which reached Number 37 in 1973. Following on from this success, Christie released a single on 5 December 2005, a big band cover of Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody". The B-side contained a big band version of "Is This the Way to Amarillo" and a live recording of "If It Feels Good, Do It" plus videos of the first two tracks. However, it only reached Number 49 on the UK chart.
To coincide with the 2006 World Cup, a new version of "Amarillo" was released on the novelty single "(Is This The Way To) The World Cup?" on 29 May 2006, reaching Number 8 in the UK. On 6 November 2006, Christie issued the album, Simply in Love.
In 2008 Christie recorded the album, Made in Sheffield, with production from Richard Hawley, and contributions from Alex Turner and Jarvis Cocker. On 20 May 2008, he performed one of the album's songs, "Danger Is A Woman In Love", at the Royal Albert Hall with Hawley. 2009 saw the release of the download single, "Every Word She Said". The same year, Christie also featured in "Heresy", with his nephew's band Laruso, which was released on their début album A Classic Case of Cause and Effect.
In July 2010 Christie made his West End début in the musical Dreamboats and Petticoats in London's Playhouse Theatre playing the roles of 'Older Bobby' and 'Phil'. On 22 December 2010, Christie appeared in a celebrity version of Come Dine with Me. Christie came joint second, with actress Susie Amy, behind winner Janet Ellis, but ahead of the musician and actor Goldie. The Channel 4 programme's prize of £1,000 went to charity.
Christie's nineteenth studio album, Now's the Time!, was released in the UK on 7 February 2011 through Acid Jazz. Produced by Richard Barrett of All Seeing I, it included collaborations with Jarvis Cocker and Róisín Murphy.
To coincide with 50 years in the music industry, Christie embarked on a 50-date national tour promoting the new album. Over the course of the summer Christie travelled with his band across the country performing in all kinds of venues. The tour included his back catalogue of hits including Avenues and Alleyways, Las Vegas, Walk Like A Panther to name a few and several tracks from the new Now's the Time! album. Included in the set list was a version of Mr Bojangles made famous by Sammy Davis Jr. and a cover of the Smokey Robinson hit Shop Around.
On 23 October 2011, Christie released a charity single, a special arrangement of !Steal The Sun" in aid of the Help for Heroes Charity, supporting all of the British Forces fighting on the frontline in Afghanistan. The single was available for download only on iTunes, HMV and Amazon, with all proceeds going to the charity.
In June 2014 Christie will perform at Locke Park, Barnsley as part of a "Live Picnic In The Park" music event. to raise money and awareness for Barnsley Hospice, which has been helping the local community for over 20 years.
UK chart singles
- 1971: "Las Vegas" (UK #21)
- 1971: "I Did What I Did for Maria" (UK #2)
- 1971: "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (UK #18)
- 1973: "Avenues and Alleyways" (UK #37)
- 1976: "Drive Safely Darling" (UK #35)
- 1999: "Walk Like a Panther" (All Seeing I feat. Tony Christie) (UK #10)
- 2005: "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (Tony Christie feat. Peter Kay) (UK #1)
- 2005: "Avenues and Alleyways" (Re-Issue) (UK #26)
- 2005: "Merry Xmas Everybody" (UK #49)
- 2006: "Is This the Way to the World Cup" (UK #8)
- Tony Christie
- With Loving Feeling
- It's Good To Be Me
- From America with Love
- I'm Not In Love
- Island in the Sun
- Live at the Festival "The Golden Orpheus '72" – Bulgaria (1972)
- Ladies Man
- Time And Tears
- As Long As I Have You
- Welcome To My Music (1991)
- Welcome To My Music 2 (1992)
- In Love Again (1993)
- Calypso And Rum (1994)
- This Is Your Day (1996)
- Time For Love (1998)
- The Greatest Hollywood Movie Songs (1999)
- Weihnachten mit Tony Christie (2001)
- Worldhits & Love-Songs (2002)
- Christmas With Christie (2005)
- Definitive Collection (2005)
- Simply in Love (2006)
- Made in Sheffield (2008)
- Now's the Time! (2011)
- Best Of - Die größten Hits aus 50 Jahren (2012)
- "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2014. "Mr Tony Christie, singer, 69"
- "He's still giving his all". Bristol Post. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 291. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 106. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Tony Christie interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' March 2011
- Afghan Heroes Homepage
- "Christmas wouldn't be the same without panto" at britishtheatreguide.info