Christie’s chart-topping hit from 1970, Yellow River, remained familiar in the late 1980s as it was adapted for use as a TV commercial for British Telecom’s Yellow Pages telephone directory.
Founder member and frontman Jeff Christie actually wrote the song in the hope that The Tremeloes would record it. In fact, they did, but in Spanish, for release in South America and Spain.
“I’m choked they didn’t record it in Britain and America”, said Jeff in 1970. “I’m certain it would have done them a lot more good than By The Way, and it also would have been a lot better for me.”
Having had it turned down, Jeff could have returned it to the pile of dust-collecting tapes and thought no more about it. But there was considerable interest from managers and agents.
So Christie, the group, was formed, primarily for the recording session. But the three members weren’t new to pop music. Group drummer Mike Blakley – the younger brother of Tremeloes lead guitarist Alan – had covered most of Britain working with Vic Elmes with Acid Gallery and the Epics.
Leeds-native Jeff Christie had served time with skiffle outfit Three G’s Plus One and freakbeat group The Outer Limits.
Yellow River was a smash hit for Christie all over the world, reaching #1 in 26 countries, including the UK. Follow-up single San Bernadino was another smash and this was closely followed by a successful debut album.
Intensive touring then became the name of the game and despite the band’s continuing popularity on the circuit, further hits proved elusive and the group underwent several line-up changes including the replacement of Blakely with future T.Rex drummer, Paul Fenton.
The band fizzled out in the mid-70s and Jeff Christie concentrated on solo projects and songwriting.