The Christians Biography

This UK band was formed in Liverpool in 1984 by Henry Priestman (21 June 1955, Hull, Humberside, England; keyboards, ex-Yachts; It’s Immaterial) and brothers Roger (b. 13 February 1950, Merseyside, England), Russell (b. 8 July 1956, Merseyside, England) and Garry Christian (b. 27 February 1955, Merseyside, England; vocals). Up until then, the brothers, who came from a family of 11, with a Jamaican immigrant father and Liverpudlian mother, had performed as a soul a cappella trio and had previously worked under a variety of names, most notably as Natural High when they made an appearance on UK television’s Opportunity Knocks talent show in 1974. The Christian brothers met Priestman, who became the band’s main songwriter, at Pete Wylie’s Liverpool studios, where Priestman convinced the trio to try recording his compositions. The resulting demo session tapes eventually led to the Christians signing to Island Records.

The band’s combination of pop and soul earned them a string of UK hits including, in 1987, ‘Forgotten Town’, ‘Hooverville (And They Promised Us The World)’, ‘When The Fingers Point’ and ‘Ideal World’. The media usually focused their attention on the striking appearance of the tall, shaven-headed Garry. This, and a reluctance to tour, led to Roger quitting the band in 1987. The Christians’ self-titled album, meanwhile, would become Island’s bestselling debut. With the exception of the Top 30 hit ‘Born Again’ in the spring, 1988 was much quieter, with the band touring and recording. The year was brought to a climax, however, with the Top 10 cover version of the Isley Brothers hit, ‘Harvest For The World’.

The Hillsborough football crowd disaster in April 1989 prompted a charity record, ‘Ferry Across The Mersey’, on which they were given joint credit alongside Paul McCartney, Gerry Marsden, Holly Johnson and Stock, Aitken And Waterman. In 1989, Roger Christian released a solo single, ‘Take It From Me’, achieving a minor UK hit (number 63), plus a well-received album that did not chart. The Christians’ only hit that year came with the Top 20 ‘Words’. The labours over recording Colour, paid off when it reached UK number 1 on its first week in the chart. Subsequent singles failed to break into the top reaches of the chart, and 1992’s Happy In Hell proved to be a commercial failure. Island Records recouped their losses with a compilation album the following year (including new material).

The band subsequently pursued solo projects, officially splitting up in 1997. Garry Christian released the acclaimed Your Cool Mystery the same year, while Priestman and Russell Christian teamed up with singer Desi Campbell in Blu-Dog. Priestman and Russell Christian reunited with Garry Christian in 1999 to play live concerts and record a new Christians album. Prodigal Sons was released in 2003 and was backed by a UK tour.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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