Tony Christie’s son says he is thanked on the street for talking about dementia

Tony Christie’s son has said the veteran singer often gets “stopped in the street and in the supermarket” by people who thank him for publicly talking about his dementia diagnosis.

Christie, 81, known for his hit song (Is This the Way To) Amarillo, disclosed his diagnosis in January 2023, and has since paired up with Music For Dementia to encourage families who live with dementia to use music as an aid.

His son, Sean Fitzgerald, told the PA news agency: “My dad, he is stopped in the street and in the supermarket by people to thank him for coming out and saying that he’s got dementia, because it had made their partner be able to say, ‘Well, look, I think I might have it’ and getting checked.

Give It A Go campaign for dementia
Singer Tony Christie with Patricia Jones from Walsall at the launch of Music for Dementia’s Give It A Go campaign in Lichfield (Paul Marriott/PA)

“Getting checked early is the best thing to do and getting on the medication that’s available.

“But they also talk about how music, not just his music, but any, any music is something that everyone uses who is living with dementia.

“The radio is the thing for my dad, we tend to listen to Boom Radio, which is great, because it plays music from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and they’ve got all the old DJs on there.”

Christie released a new album entitled We Still Shine in February, his first in 12 years, and Fitzgerald said this was a way to capture his legacy.

They both flew to Nashville, in the US, and spent three weeks there to record two new albums.

“The first one of them, which is out now, We Still Shine, my dad thinks, and I agree, that it’s the best thing he has ever recorded”, Fitzgerald said.

Glastonbury Festival 2009 – Day Three
Tony Christie performing (Yui Mok/PA)

“His singing is better than ever.”

He added: “Dad was just singing so well, we said we’ve got to record, it’s silly not capturing this for his legacy.

“He wanted to make an album or two that he could look back on and just be really proud to say ‘That’s it, I’m happy. I’m happy to leave that if that was the last thing I ever did. I’m proud’.

“Although we are planning to go back again and make more, but we didn’t know that at the time.”

Tony Christie
Tony Christie disclosed his diagnosis in January 2023 (Ian West/PA)

Ahead of Dementia Action Week, from May 13 to 19, Christie is performing two songs on BBC One’s Songs Of Praise on May 12 at Lichfield Cathedral.

He told PA: “My two grandsons were choristers there, years and years ago, and they only lived about a quarter of a mile away.

“We spent Christmases there. The whole family spent Christmases there, they were singing in the choir.”

Christie will open the service with (Is This The Way To) Amarillo and close it with the song Thank You For Being A Friend, which he recorded alongside a number of other artists for Music For Dementia’s 2023 Thank You Day campaign, honouring carers.

Christie is now backing Music For Dementia’s Give It A Go campaign, which features a series of digital ads encouraging people to “try the singing thing”, and “Sinatra’s power might help with the shower”.