There’s much more to Tony Christie than Peter Kay and Is This The Way To Amarillo you know? Now, celebrating his 50th year in music, Andrew Trendell caught up to find out what keeps him going.
“I just like to work,” shrugs Tony Christie with a subtle Northern tone. “I don’t know what else to do.” Born in 1943 in Conisbrough near Doncaster and spending his early life in South Yorkshire, Tony has learned to treasure his working life, inspired by the people of the region.
“Doing the miner’s welfare clubs and the working men’s clubs were tough because they didn’t stand for any nonsense,” admits Tony. “They worked hard and wanted entertaining, but if you knew your job and knew what you were doing then you’d be fine.”
“It keeps your feet on the ground because you can’t be pretentious in South Yorkshire. You’ve got to be yourself.”
Tony rose to fame in the early 70s, but then faded into obscurity, until a certain My Peter Kay brought his career in the UK back to life.
“Peter did me a big favour really,” says Tony. “He used Is This The Way To Amarillo in an episode of Pheonix Nights and I watched it and thought it was nice but didn’t think any more about it.”
“Then I before I knew it I was number one with the single and album and everything was exploding.”
Since then, Tony has been very busy indeed.
“I think once you’ve been out of work then you don’t turn any work down. I know a lot of entertainers that are frightened of going back to the days when you’d struggle, so we work and work and work.”
But obviously he’s not struggling now, and that became manifest on his last album Made In Sheffield – a record made with Jarvis Cocker, Richard Hawley, The Human League and the Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner.
“That was great because I’m a great believer that if you hang around with great people then their magic will rub off on you and the reason those people have made it is because they’ve got a little bit of magic,” says Tony.
To most people, either a number one single and album or a collaboration some modern musical giants would be a career highlight - but not for Tony Christie.
“People are always asking what’s the best thing that’s happened to me in my career and I tell them that it hasn’t happened yet,” he says. “I firmly believe there are bigger things to come. There’s plenty of time for rest when you die. I think that if you’ve got a talent and you’re able to use it then don’t waste it.”
Tony Christie will be performing at Lincoln Theatre Royal on Saturday 23rd April.