Tony Christiewas born in Conisbroughas Anthony Fitzgerald on 25th April 1943.
Hehad two Top Twenty hits in the UK Singles Chart in 1971 with “I Did What I Did For Maria“, which reached #2 and “Is This the Way to Amarillo“, which peaked at #18. He also had a minor hit with “Avenues And Alleyways” which reached #37, the theme to the television series The Protectors.
“Is This the Way to Amarillo” sold over 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 Callandar.
Album wise he recorded regularly throughout the seventies 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.
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 national 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, for example with four albums recorded with German producer Jack White, especially their first album collaboration Welcome To My Music, reaching #7 in the German charts and going platinum. From 1991 to 2002 Tony 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“, as 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 #1 in the charts (outselling all the first release’s chart run put together). This led to the biggest sales for a #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 7 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 #1 spot the following week in the UK Albums Chart, breaking records when it also came in at #1 on the downloads chart.
In 2005 the Dutch singer Albert West covered the same song. This release reached #25 in the Dutch record chart. The same year Tony Christie himself re-recorded “Amarillo” together with the Hermes House Band for the German market, reaching No.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 #26 on the UK Singles Chart, it once again out-performed the original release, which reached #37 in 1973.
Following on from this success Christie released a new 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 #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 #8 in the UK. On 6 November 2006 Christie issued a new album, Simply in Love.
In 2008 Christie recorded an 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 Richard Hawley.
2009 sees the release of the download single “Every Word She Said“.
In 2009 Christie also featured in a song called “Heresy” with his nephew’s band Laruso, which was released on their debut album A Classic Case of Cause and Effect.
On the 5th of July 2010 Tony Christie made his West End debut in the musical ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ in London’s Playhouse Theatre playing the roles of ‘Older Bobby’ and ‘Phil’