Seán Creedon chats to ‘Amarillo’ star Tony Christie and hears about his Irish roots ahead of his January tour dates in Ireland
Neil Sedaka has written some great songs down through the years, some on his own and others with Howard Greenfield. One of his best with Greenfield is surely Is This The Way To Amarillo, which was a big hit for Tony Christie.
Christie, who has strong Irish connections, loves to return to the land of his grandparents. He is back in Ireland for three concerts this month, in the Cork Opera House on January 25, The Helix in Dublin on January 26 and Ulster Hall, Belfast on January 27.
Tony’s real name is Fitzgerald and he was born in April, 1943, and reared in Conisbrough, a small village between Sheffield and Doncaster in South Yorkshire.
His father Paddy was and accountant and Tony remembers his Dad bringing him see Doncaster Rovers play. His heroes were centre forward Alick Jeffrey and Northern Irish goalkeeper Harry Gregg, who would go on to play for Manchester United.
Paddy wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and also become an accountant. ‘‘I did work in the office of a steel factory in south Yorkshire for a while, but really I always wanted to be a singer.
‘‘I started singing when I was six or seven years old and it was always part of family life. In the fifties I used to get six pence if I sang a song at a family gathering. Now sixpence was good pocket money back then.
“My grandparents had played in a céili band over here in England, my grandfather on the squeeze box and my grandmother on the fiddle.
‘‘My grandfather on my mother’s side lived with us and he used to have a harmonium that he would play all the time, so I was always surrounded by music. Singing and music just came naturally to me.’’
Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own. Tony Christie plays CORK OPERA HOUSE on Thursday, 25th January 2024, THE HELIX, DUBLIN on Friday, 26th January 2024 and ULSTER HALL, BELFAST on Saturday, 27th January 2024. His new album We Still Shine is due out this month.