THE last time I joined in a chorus of Is This The Way to Amarillo? was during a flying visit to that Texan town.

That was six years ago but now I can say I have sung this iconic tune with the man who turned it into a massive number one hit.

First released in the early 1970s, Amarillo was the major turning point in reviving the career of veteran crooner Tony Christie who has sold more than ten million albums.

Unable to clinch a British record deal, Tony had been in danger of drifting into the pop wilderness and was contemplating early retirement in the Spanish sun.

Then Amarillo, which got a new lease of life through Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, was re-released in 2005 in aid of Comic Relief.

It soared to Number 1 in the United Kingdom and Tony’s career was back on track.

The 69-year-old crooner, who was making his debut at the Stoneham Lane club, is celebrating 50 years in showbiz.

The very dapper Mr Christie hit the ground running with another one of his big hits, Avenues And Alleyways.

His playlist, demonstrating his powerful vocal range, included I Did What I Did for Maria and classics from the song books of Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Junior and Andy Williams.

Accompanied by his fine seven-piece band, one of the highlights of the evening was Walk Like A Panther, written by Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker.

Then it was time to get into Amarillo party mood as Christie brought to a close his two-hour show.

He seemed to heave a slight sigh when he said: “It’s that song.”

Understandable when you think he must have sung it a million times. This was the one we had all be waiting for and was the automatic cue for dancing in the aisles.

It was first time that Tony Christie has found his way to Eastleigh . Judging from the response of the audience I am sure his fans will want him to make a return journey.