An Interview with
(Extracts from a series of chats conducted by Ray Chan)
On the Epics days
original line-up of the Epics was me, Vic, Stuart Tann (bass
guitar and vocals) and Ian Jansen (guitar and vocals). I see
Ian quite a lot, and usually go ski-ing once a year with him
and his wife. We actually had a re-union of the band recently.
It was the first time I had seen Stuart in more than 30 years.
The group lasted six
2) How Christie started
brother Alan must take the credit for this, as he signed Yellow
River to his publishing company after Jeff played his
demo version to him in a Leeds nightclub. After recording
the title three or four different ways with his group the
Tremeloes, Alan became unsure of its capabilities. I felt
this was a hit song, and asked Alan if I could record it.
Unfortunately The Epics
had just disbanded, due to Ian Jansen having enough of the
music business. I called Vic Elmes, and he jumped at the chance.
Alan then suggested we get in touch with Jeff Christie.
Anyway, to save money,
we used part of the Tremeloes' recording, and recorded Down
the Mississippi Line (B side) in a 4-track demo studio
in Denmark Street. Mike Smith (whom I still see) became our
recording manager. Alan then approached his publicist Brian
Longley to do our PR work for free, with an incentive to manage
the band if the record became a hit. Yellow
River was number 1 in the UK charts when we played
our first gig together.
On writing songs
was never a songwriter. I remember Jeff wasn't impressed when
he asked whether I did any writing. I said "Only on the
back of toilet doors" Jeff didn't laugh. But I
did write the words to New York City.
I gave the lyrics to Vic and asked him to provide the melody,
and that's how that came about.
wasn't the best drummer in the world, but had managed to hold
it together in a band for the previous six years. However,
I hadn't been drumming for about six months before joining
Christie, and so I was very rusty. When Yellow
River topped the charts, there was a need to rush out
with an album of songs. Instead of using me, I think Jeff
just said "let's get a session drummer" to speed
up the process.
Christie also had a
hectic tour schedule, and there were probably concerns about
my drumming ability. I was approached by Brian who asked me
if I was happy or did I want to leave the band. He made me
such a good financial offer to leave, I decided to quit.
Jeff was best mates
with Paul Fenton, and he probably preferred him in the band
than me anyway.
5) The escape clause
of the deal to leave the group involved me getting royalties
from the original recordings of Yellow
River and San Bernadino,
minus studio costs. To this day, I still get royalties from
those songs, as they continue to sell throughout the world.
The other members did not get the same arrangement
studio costs had to be taken away from any royalties due to
them, and because the band spent so much time in the studio,
I believe even today they are not getting any royalties because
the studios (CBS/Sony) are still recouping costs.
6) Life after Christie
set up my own production and publishing management agency,
and handled bands like The Equals, Gonzalez, Rubettes and
many more. I even took over The Tremeloes, hot property at
the time. We actually turned Queen down!
In 1980, I got Vic
into the Tremeloes. That lasted a year, and after that Vic
and I and a couple of other players teamed up and did a Christie
revival tour of Germany, along with The Tremeloes, Dave Dee
and the Swinging Blue Jeans. We played a mix of Christie hits
and cover versions, including an Everly Brothers medley. The
other two members were Mick Wilson (bass guitar and vocals)
- he used to be with a band I managed called Flame - and Peter
Morrison (guitar and vocals). [Coincidentally,
Peter was a Leeds musician who, in 1967, played with his own
band on the same stage as Jeff's Outer Limits.]
We even recorded a number Vic had written called Deep
in the Night, but were unable to get it released.
after I left the music business, and set up a company with
my brother Alan, buying, renovating and selling properties.
Alan re-joined the
Tremeloes in 1984, and after that I started mini-cabbing on
a part time basis something I still do today.