Is This the Way to Amarillo

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"Is This The Way to Amarillo"
Single by Tony Christie
B-side "Love Is a Friend of Mine"
Released November 1971
Recorded 1971
Genre Pop
Length 3:10
Label MCA (UK and Europe); Kapp (US)
Writer(s) Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield
Producer(s) Tony Christie

"Is This the Way to Amarillo" is a song written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, referring to Amarillo, Texas. It is about a man traveling to Amarillo to find his girlfriend. The reason that Amarillo was chosen for the song was because it was the only place name that Sedaka could think of that rhymed with "willow" and "pillow". The song was originally to be titled, "Is This the Way to Pensacola" referring to Pensacola, Florida, but Sedaka felt that Amarillo worked better than Pensacola.[1]

Written by two Americans about a United States city, the song was first released in Europe, where it has become much more famous than it has ever been in the composers' native country.

The song was recorded by Tony Christie and released in the UK in November 1971, initially reaching number 18 in the UK Singles Chart. However, it was a substantially bigger hit at that time across Continental Europe, notably in Germany and Spain, where it made number one. Following its re-issue in 2005, promoted with a video featuring Peter Kay, the song gained even greater prominence.

In 2006, the song was played at the World Cup Final in Berlin and was also played by The Central Band of the Royal British Legion on Centre Court at Wimbledon before the start of the Men's Singles final.[citation needed]

Neil Sedaka version[edit]

Single by Neil Sedaka
from the album "A Song"
B-side "The Leaving Game"
Released 1977
Recorded 1977
Genre Pop
Label Elektra (US); Polydor (Europe)
Writer(s) Sedaka/Greenfield

In the United States, a version by the writer of the song Neil Sedaka got to number 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977, and the title was shortened to "Amarillo".

Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay version[edit]

"Is This the Way to Amarillo"
Single by Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay
from the album Is This the Way to Amarillo
Released March 14, 2005
Format Digital download, CD single, DVD single
Genre Pop
Length 3:40
Writer(s) Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield
Producer(s) Tony Christie
Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay singles chronology
"('Is This the Way to) Amarillo'"
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"

In 2002, Tony Christie's version was used in the British comedy series Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights. The song was then re-released on March 14, 2005 to raise money for Comic Relief.

Music video[edit]

In the accompanying video, Peter Kay mimed the song accompanied by various celebrities including Brian May, Roger Taylor, Shakin' Stevens, Shaun Ryder, Bez, Paddy McGuinness, Michael Parkinson, Heather Mills, Danny Baker, Ronnie Corbett, Mr Blobby, Jimmy Savile, Jim Bowen, look-alikes of Cliff Richard (the same lookalike is used in the Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights spin off, Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere) and Mahatma Gandhi, William Roache, Anne Kirkbride, Sally Lindsay, Bernie Clifton, Keith Harris and Orville the Duck, Sooty, Sweep, Geoffrey Hayes and Bungle, as well as Tony Christie himself.

Within the first few cameos, Max and Paddy from Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights and its spin-off appear together, arguing and eventually fighting in the Granada studios' corridor. This is one of many appearances of characters from Kay's TV series, including Paddy's tennis playing cell mate Cliff from Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere, and both a midget football team and Brian Potter from Phoenix Nights. The video consists almost entirely of Kay walking towards the camera flanked by different pairings of the celebrities, in front of increasingly bizarre and unlikely backgrounds.

Chart performance[edit]

This time around, the song peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart,[2] and remained there for seven weeks[3] before finally being knocked off by "Lonely" by Akon.[4] It went on to become the UK's best-selling single of 2005.[5] During its success, the song was credited in chart rundowns and other media appearances to "Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay". However, Kay does not appear on the record, since it is a re-issue of the original version and not a re-recording.

Having sold 1.2 million copies, "(Is This the Way to Amarillo)" was the third best-selling single of the 2000s in the UK, behind "Anything Is Possible"/"Evergreen" and "Unchained Melody" by Gareth Gates.[6] It had sold over 1.31 million copies as of November 2012.[7]


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[8] 1
UK Download (Official Charts Company)[9] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[10] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 1

Decade-end charts[edit]

Chart (2000–09) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 3


BBC One's This Week used a parody of Kay's video, starring presenter Andrew Neil, for its opening titles in the run-up to the 2005 election.[12] On May 13, 2005, another spoof video of the song made by the Royal Dragoon Guards stationed in Iraq was emailed so frequently it crashed a server at the Ministry of Defence. The spoof was entitled "Is This the Way to Armadillo".[13]

On July 2, 2005, Peter Kay, joined by the crowd, sang an excerpt of this song a cappella, before introducing The Who at Live 8's London concert. Before this, on May 4, 2005, Kay performed at a concert by Queen + Paul Rodgers at the Manchester Evening News Arena, Kay and his regular co-star Paddy McGuinness led the crowd in an impromptu rendition while they introduced the band's encore.[citation needed]


  • CD single
  1. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" - 3:40
  2. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (All Around the World Mix) - 3:45
  3. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (music video) - 3:49
  4. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (making of the video) - 5:14
  • DVD single
  1. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (music video) - 3:49
  2. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (Club Mix) - 6:14
  3. "Is This the Way to Amarillo" (Instrumental w/Photo Gallery) - 3:40

Chart succession[edit]

Preceded by
"All About You/You've Got a Friend" by McFly
UK number one single
March 20, 2005 – May 7, 2005
Succeeded by
"Lonely" by Akon
Preceded by
"All About You/You've Got a Friend" by McFly
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
March 31, 2005 – April 28, 2005
Succeeded by
"Lonely" by Akon

Other cover versions[edit]

The Dutch singer Albert West covered the song in 1988. After the successful re-release of the song in the UK, Tony Christie re-recorded it with the Hermes House Band; this version charted in Germany in 2005. There is also a version by The Les Humphries Singers and a version in German by Roberto Blanco. There was also a 1971 version on the MGM label (K 14360) by a band called English House. It was produced by Terry Slater. The A-side was "Music Is The Voice Of Love" composed by Terry Slater and Phil Everly.

The song has also been covered in Czech as "Kvitek Mandragory" by Helena Vondráčková. [14]



External links[edit]