Amarillo singer Tony Christie to tour the UK and Ireland despite dementia diagnosis

  • Tony Christie speaks to ITV News

Singer Tony Christie says he is relishing the prospect of going on tour again – despite his dementia diagnosis.

The 79-year-old entertainer – best known for the hit song (Is This The Way To) Amarillo – is planning dates across the UK and Ireland just weeks after revealing he had the condition.

The tour will mark his 80th birthday in April.

Christie, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, told ITV News he was determined to continue performing for as long as possible. In the coming weeks he plans to fly to Nashville, in the United States, to record two more albums.

He said: "I can't wait. It's very long days, we're going to do two albums in a week, 24 songs, maybe a few more.

"The tour is going to be a long, long tour and I'm really looking forward to it because I'm a different person on stage. It makes me feel great."

Christie, whose other hits included I Did What I Did For Maria and Avenues And Alleyways, said he realised something was wrong when he found it difficult to complete a crossword two years ago.

"It was gradual," he said. "I'm a lifelong crossword do-er, and suddenly l was having problems doing crosswords and thought, what is happening to me?

"I started forgetting names and dates and little bit at a time."

Dementia is most commonly associated with memory loss but can also affect the way that people speak, think, feel and behave, according to the NHS.

Tony's wife has encouraged him to be open about his diagnosis. Credit: PA

Christie's condition was caught early, and he was given medication, which he said has allowed him to feel "better than ever".

Now his wife, Sue, has convinced him to talk about it in the hope of helping others in the same position.

"She says 'don't be afraid of it, why don't you talk about it?' There are lots of people out there who have it, who hide it, who are frightened of it.

"She says if you go out and say that you've got it and you're having medicine for it, and you're still working and you feel good - which I do - it will help somebody."

On its release, (Is This The Way To) Amarillo reached number 18 in the UK singles chart, but was a bigger hit across Europe where it went to number one in some countries.

A re-released 2005 version, with Christie singing in aid of Comic Relief as a video showed comedian Peter Kay accompanied by celebrities, re-entered the charts and hit number one in the UK.

In 2006, Christie also hit number eight with a football anthem version of the song called (Is This The Way To) The World Cup.

  • For help and support with dementia, the Dementia UK helpline can be contacted on: 0800 8886678

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