AUDIO PREVIEW: Golden great Tony Christie sings praises of angels and Amarillo
Golden great Tony Christie today revealed how he has been blessed with a 50-year recording career - thanks to help from his guardian angels.
The 73-year-old Amarillo legend said he could not have gone on with the show some nights without their help.
AUDIO: Listen to Graham Walker's fascinating exclusive interview with Tony Christie - talking frankly about his faith, career, new album and tour - CLICK HERE.
He even sings about his angels on his new 50 Golden Greats album, of life defining hits and new songs, which he is currently touring on his Golden Anniversary Tour.
You Are My Lifeline, written by 10cc's Graham Gouldman and produced by Graham Pleeth, includes the lines "all I needed was a helping hand, guiding me through thick and thin" and "let the angels take control".
The 50 track three CD box set also includes My Prayer and My Sweet Lord alongside greatest hits Las Vegas, Avenues and Alleyways I Did What I Did For Maria, Solitaire, Walk Like A Panther and (Is This the Way To) Amarillo.
BUY: Tony Christie's 50 Golden Greats album is available to download now on iTunes or Amazon. Also visit the official Tony Christie site at www.tonychristie.com, follow him on Twitter @TheTonyChristie and like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheTonyChristie.
VIDEO: Watch Tony, on our embedded YouTube player, performing You Are My Lifeline, featured on BBC TV's Songs Of Praise and filmed at Christ Church, Spitalfields.
In an exclusive chat - hear it all online - South Yorkshire born Tony spoke about his faith and how his angels continue to play a huge part in his life and career.
He said: "My wife and I believe that everyone has a guardian angel and if ever I am in trouble or not feeling well I just sit and concentrate.I asked them for help and they've never let me down yet.
"I'll give you an example. I was doing a guest spot at the Albert Hall with Richard Hawley, who produced my Made In Sheffield album and I wasn't feeling too good. I had about 10 to 15 minutes alone in my dressing room, asking the angels for help. I went on and sang Danger Is A Woman in love and half way through the song the whole audience stood up. That's how good I was singing. It went down an absolute storm."
The final track on 50 Golden Greats is called When All Is Said And Done, which could be taken as a My Way style sign off from Britain's greatest living crooner. But he says far from it.
After a career now spanning an incredible six decades the national trasure says he isn't planning to hang up his microphone any time soon or stop recording.
And if mum Iris is anything to go by the music legend is only just getting started. She's 94-years-young.
Will he still be going strong at her age?
"I hope so," he laughs. "My mother is as sharp as a button. She still lives in Conisbrough and I get over to see here whenever I can."
He assured fans: "I will be doing more recordings. While ever I am able to sing I will carry on.
"The live work is more exhausting. it's all the travel, the different hotels and whatever. As you get older it's more of a strain.
"Recording is a lot easier because you are in one hotel every night when you finish and you can take your time. There's no pressure really. I used to work out for a tour and do a lot of exercise but I've slowed down a hell of a lot
"I save my energy for my voice. Basically I don't do as much jumping about now like I used to do."
He's back in Yorkshire and the region with dates on his Golden Anniversary Tour which is taking him all over the UK and then mainland Europe.
This weekend he plays Wakefield Theatre Royal - on Sunday, October 9 - then he's at Buxton Opera House on October 13; Chesterfield Winding Wheel on October 15; Mansfield Palace Theatre on October 23; Leeds City Varieties on October 30 and Grimsby Auditorium, November 11.
South Yorkshire is missing but he's already eager to play Sheffield again as part of major plans for next year.
His special guests are Ranagri, who he performs songs with in the first hald him from his recent hit album The Great Irish Songbook, which reflects on his Irish roots.
Tony, who was born Anthony Fitzgerald, said: "My dad was Paddy Fitzgerald. My grandparents were from County Mayo. They were both musicians. My grandma played the fiddle and my grandfather the accordion in ceilidh bands. He came over to England during the First World War, or just after it, because of the work situation.
"He came to South Yorkshire where my dad was born, in Maltby. Every wedding I went to as a kid was all Irish music - that was in my DNA.
The second half on this tour is Tony and his band in reflective mood, playing all the hits and many of the tracks from the new album, which features all the original recordings.
His first ever single, as Tony Christie and the Trackers, was Life's Too Good To Waste and b-side Just The Two of Us.
The original master had been lost but a fan provided a copy of the record which was used to create the album version.
Tony explained: "We found it through a fan who had a copy. We borrowed it and sent it to a company that specialise in renovating old recordings making them sound as they did originally.
"it's brought all the memories back. We recorded it in 1966. At that time we were doing all the clubs and we got this contact, I don't know how it came about, but they sent me this song. I re-wrote the middle eight because it suddenly went into a Rolling Stones type of thing.
"We recorded it in a studio in London with this American guy who was also producing The Who and The Kinks. I thought, 'what the hell am I doing here'. He said it needed beefing up so to go have a coffee while he called in a couple of session players. When we came back on the keyboards was Billy Preston, who at the time was known as the fifth Beatle and guitarist, who looked about 17 or 18 sat there sniffling, with a really bad cold. That was was Jimmy Page who went on to form Led Zeppelin."
He aded: "There are a few songs on this album which I recorded in Nashville, written by Graham Gouldman from 10cc and Graham Pleeth was the producer.
"There is also a few tracks from the two albums I did in Sheffield, Now Is The Time and Made In Sheffield. All the songs are hand picked and it's literally the story of my recording career."
There's one song which he could never leave off a hits album, or out of any live show. But is Amarillo, which he starts the album with, a blessing or a curse?
"It's an absolute blessing," he says, without any form of doubt.
"I've been asked many times if I'm sick of singing that song. I just wish Neil Sedaka had given me another 10 like it, as big.
"I finished the show with it. You can't follow it."
Tony Christie's Golden Anniversary Tour
8 – Artshouse, Stratford Upon Avon9 – Theatre Royal, Wakefield13 – Opera House, Buxton14 – Babbacombe Theatre, Torquay15 – Winding Wheel, Chesterfield20 – Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone22 – The Core, Corby23 – Palace Theatre, Mansfield28 – Camberley Theatre29 – Embassy Theatre, Skegness30 – City Varieties, LeedsNovember 2016
4 – Lighthouse Theatre, Kettering10 – Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
11 – Auditorium, Grimsby
12 – Playhouse, Weston Super Mare17 – Tullamore Court Hotel18 – INEC - Gleneagle Hotel, Co. Kerry19 – Cork Opera House21 – Millennium Forum Theatre, Derry22 – Ulster Hall, Belfast23 – Carrickdale Hotel, Dundalk24 – Armagh City Hotel26 – Shanklin Theatre, Isle Of WightDecember 20164 – Ennepetal, Leo Theater6 – Erfurt, Kaisersaal7 – Schwabach Markgrafensaal9 – Bonn, Brückenforum