(Is This the Way to) Amarillo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Is This the Way to Amarillo)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"(Is This The Way To) Amarillo"
Is This the Way to Amarillo.jpg
Single by Tony Christie
B-side"Love Is a Friend of Mine"
ReleasedNovember 1971
GenrePop, schlager
LabelMCA (UK and Europe); Kapp (US)
Songwriter(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. It is about a man traveling to Amarillo, Texas, to find his girlfriend Marie. 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 with a strong country-western lyrical theme, the song was first released in Europe, where it has become much more popular than in the composers' native country, with a big-band/orchestral pop arrangement sung by Tony Christie. Christie's version was a major hit in Europe and a modest success in his native United Kingdom upon its release, then became even more popular in the mid-2000s when the song was reissued. As Christie's version failed to make a major impact in the U.S., Sedaka released his own recording of the song in 1977, which narrowly missed the top 40 but was an easy listening hit in the U.S. and Canada.

Tony Christie version[edit]

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. In the U.S., however, Christie's record stalled at #121 on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100. Following the re-issue of Christie's version in 2005 in aid of the charity Comic Relief, promoted with a video featuring comedian Peter Kay, the song gained even greater prominence, reaching number 1 in the UK.[citation needed]

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]

On some recorded live performances, in the final chorus, Christie intentionally sings the wrong lyrics. Instead of the standard "I've been weeping like a willow", Christie changes it to "weeping like a Winslow" as a homage to one of his favourite high school teachers[citation needed].

Chart history[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1971–72) Peak
Australia (KMR)[2] 10
Germany 1
Ireland (IRMA)[3] 3
South Africa (Springbok Radio)[4] 6
Spain 1
New Zealand (Listener)[5] 2
UK (OCC) 18
US Billboard Hot 100[6] 121
Chart (2005) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[3] 1
UK (OCC) 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1972) Rank
Australia [7] 68

Neil Sedaka version[edit]

Amarillo - Neil Sedaka.jpg
Single by Neil Sedaka
from the album A Song
B-side"The Leaving Game"
ReleasedMay 1977
LabelElektra (US); Polydor (Europe)

In the United States, Neil Sedaka, the writer of the song and a man who had recently returned to prominence as a pop singer in the mid-1970s after a decade of relative obscurity, recorded his own version of the song, released under a shortened title of "Amarillo". Sedaka's version of "Amarillo" got to number 44 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1977; in Canada, Sedaka reached number two on the Adult Contemporary chart.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly singles charts[edit]

Chart (1977) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles [9] 54
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary [8] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 [10] 44
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 4

Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay version[edit]

"(Is This the Way to) Amarillo"
(Is This the Way to) Amarillo.jpg
Single by Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay
from the album Is This the Way to Amarillo
ReleasedMarch 14, 2005
FormatDigital download, CD, DVD
GenrePop, schlager
Songwriter(s)Neil Sedaka, Howard Greenfield
Producer(s)Tony Christie
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 Channel 4 sitcom Phoenix Nights. The song was then re-released on March 14, 2005 to raise money for Comic Relief. The video features Peter Kay, Tony Christie and other celebrities, including William Roache, Anne Kirkbride, Jim Bowen, Ronnie Corbett, Michael Parkinson and Geoffrey Hayes.

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 Mahatma Gandhi and Cliff Richard (the same lookalike is used in the Phoenix Nights spin off Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere), William Roache, Anne Kirkbride, Sally Lindsay, Bernie Clifton, Keith Harris and Orville the Duck, Sooty, Sweep, Geoffrey Hayes and Bungle, Emu, 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 football team for people with dwarfism 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.

From 2012 onwards any repeat airing of the music video on television is now a new re-edited version which takes out the appearance of Jimmy Savile. In October 2012, revelations emerged which revealed that Savile was one of the worst paedophile sex abusers in Britain, and so his appearance in the video which helped raised funds for disadvantaged children in Africa and Britain had to be edited out for future broadcasts. The re-edited version is mainly the same as the original except the short 15 second scene with Savile who joined Peter Kay and actress Sally Lindsay is now re-edited to show Sally and Peter only, with a slowed down and repeated showing of Sally on her own next to Peter to fill the gap left by the absence of Savile, thus eliminating Savile from the 15 second section. The original version remains on YouTube.

Chart performance[edit]

This time around, the song peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart,[11] and remained there for seven weeks[12] before finally being knocked off by "Lonely" by Akon.[13] It went on to become the UK's best-selling single of 2005.[14] 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.[citation needed]

Having sold 1.2 million copies by the end of 2009, "(Is This the Way to) Amarillo" was the third best-selling single of the 2000s in the UK, behind "Anything Is Possible"/"Evergreen" by Will Young and "Unchained Melody" by Gareth Gates.[15] As of March 2017, it has sold 1.28 million copies.[16]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  • 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

Is This the Way to Armadillo[edit]

Is This the Way to Armadillo is a spoof video of the song "Is This the Way to Amarillo" produced by the Royal Dragoon Guards stationed in Iraq at Al-Faw towards the end of their 6-month deployment there. The video was emailed so frequently on 13 May 2005 it crashed a server at the Ministry of Defence.[23] According to the Evening Standard, the crashing of the server caused systems to go down at various British military establishments, and the MoD was forced to issue instructions to delete all instances of the video.[24]

The "Peter Kay" character is credited as "Lucky Pierre", an obscure sexual reference.[25]


The video became so popular that servicemen from other countries from around the world created their own versions:

  • Dutch troops stationed in Afghanistan made their own spoof of "Is This the Way to Amarillo" entitled "Dutch Amarillo".
  • German officers and officer candidates made another spoof at the German armed forces university in Hamburg.
  • Royal Australian Air Force officers made a spoof at the Australian Defence Force Academy called the Air Force Amarill.

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 "Kvítek mandragory" by Helena Vondráčková.[26] and as "Napis Na Dverich" by Jiri Hromadka. The Finnish version, "Amarillo", with lyrics by Pertti Reponen, was first recorded by Johnny Liebkind in 1972, then by Kari Tapio in 1979 and most recently by Danny (Ilkka Lipsanen) in 1987; the latter made the song a staple of Finnish pop music. Other artists to have recorded the song include Daniel O'Donnell, Albert West,[27] and James Last.

Usage in football[edit]

Ever since the mid-1990s, the song has been adopted as an unofficial anthem of Scottish football club Falkirk FC. It is played over the stadium sound system in celebration whenever Falkirk scores a goal, and at the start and end of all matches.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Is This the way to Pensacola? Record columnist Tam Cowan finds it could all have been so different when he meets his lifelong idol Neil Sedaka at his New York apartment". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  3. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Is This the Way to Amarillo". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  4. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  5. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 31 January 1972
  6. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100 1959-2004]
  7. ^ "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on October 20, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "RPM Adult Oriented Playlist" (PDF). RPM Magazine. Vol. 27 no. 16. July 16, 1977. p. 25. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 14, 2012.
  9. ^ "RPM 100 Top Singles (51-100)" (PDF). RPM Magazine. Vol. 27 no. 17. July 23, 1977. p. 18. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 18, 2015.
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  11. ^ "Comic Relief gets 70s star to the top". The Guardian. Press Association. March 21, 2005. Archived from the original on October 10, 2016. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  12. ^ "Christie holds on to chart reign". BBC News. May 1, 2005. Archived from the original on April 21, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  13. ^ "Akon topples Christie chart reign". BBC News. May 8, 2005. Archived from the original on June 13, 2018. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  14. ^ "Amarillo tops 2005 single sales". BBC News. January 2, 2006. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018.
  15. ^ Bassett, Jordan (December 31, 2009). "Will Young and James Blunt win biggest selling single and album of the noughties". NME. Time Inc. UK. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Copsey, Rob (March 24, 2017). "The Official biggest selling Comic Relief singles revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  17. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  20. ^ "2005 UK Singles Chart" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
  21. ^ "2005 Year-end Charts" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  22. ^ "British single certifications – Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay – (Is This the Way to) Amarillo". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type (Is This the Way to) Amarillo in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  23. ^ "'Amarillo' soldiers hail response". BBC. May 18, 2005. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  24. ^ Sawyer, Patrick (May 17, 2005). "Is this the way to Army-rillo?". Evening Standard. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  25. ^ Bakir, Vian (May 27, 2010). Sousveillance, Media and Strategic Political Communication: Iraq, USA, UK. A&C Black. pp. 98–99. ISBN 0826430090. Retrieved November 29, 2019.
  26. ^ "Kvitek Mandragory on Helena Vondráčková's website". Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  27. ^ "Welkom op de website van Albert West". Albertwest.nl. Retrieved April 2, 2014.

External links[edit]