Cabaret crooner and balladeer Tony Christie was born in 1949 in the Yorkshire castle town of Conisbrough. After an club singer's apprenticeship, he signed to MCA Records in 1969.
The biggest hits of his early years came in 1971, with the grim (but storming) revenge song, I Did What I Did For Maria and the Neil Sedaka-penned classic Is This the Way to Amarillo?. In 1972 he sang the bombastically overproduced Avenues and Alleyways, the theme song to The Protectors, a British TV detective show starring Robert Vaughn. Avenues and Alleyways is fondly remembered for its chiming five-note introductory phrase and colourful, breathlessly delivered lyrics:
Walk around the jungle
See the rough and tumble
Listen to a squealer cry
Then a little later
In the morning paper
Read about the way he died!
The Seventies provided Christie with several more hits, including Don't Go Down To Reno and the car crash ballad Drive Safely, Darlin', complete with gravel-voiced spoken bridge ("He said, 'there's been an accident - she didn't stand a chance'"). He was also a member of the original 1975 cast of Evita, appearing on the London cast recording, and released a number of cover versions of popular songs such as The Way We Were, Solitaire and Home Lovin' Man.
Christie found success on the British cabaret circuit into the 1980s, but when his popularity in his native country waned he found a new fanbase in Germany, where his popularity continues to this day.
In 1999, Christie enjoyed a brief UK chart comeback when he joined dance act All Seeing I to record the single Walk Like a Panther, written by Jarvis Cocker. His recording of Amarillo has also found fame of late thanks to its appearance in Peter Kay's UK sitcom Phoenix Nights.
Though best known for his often camp hits, Christie has a deep and powerful voice capable of conveying powerful (if exaggerated) emotion. A greatest hits album, The Best of Tony Christie, is available at a mid-range price. Highly recommended!