Shropshire Star

Tony Christie reveals the challenge of living and performing with dementia

Singer Tony Christie has spoken out about his dementia diagnosis, declaring: "I won't let it change my life."

Tony Christie

The 79-year-old, who lives in Staffordshire, said he has a full year ahead, including a number of live dates as he prepares to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Christie revealed he had been diagnosed with dementia earlier this month.

He had told his wife Sue, 73, that he had been struggling to remember people's names and other bits of information and she encouraged him to get it checked.

He admitted: "It threw me for a moment, but I have decided to not let it beat me. I do not panic and I have tablets given to me by my doctor that have helped me."

The (Is This The Way To) Amarillo star said that despite performing the same songs for 50 years, he now needs the lyrics on an autocue as an "insurance".

He said: "I started noticing about two years ago that I was forgetting some of my lyrics. I have a TV screen on stage now, but that is only there if I need it. I mostly start singing and it just flows and the live shows are great.

"I am a very normal person off stage, but when I get on I become Tony Christie. I still love to perform."

A three-disc greatest hits is set to be released this year and he has been to Nashville to record new music as well as take part in a documentary.

He is planning a tour and will be at Newcastle under Lyme's New Vic Theatre on February 20.

He says medication has helped him and that doctors have told him there are very real hopes of a cure for dementia within a few years.

The lover of crosswords admits he now struggles a little, but adds: "I do not panic. I have accepted it. I do a few clues, put it down and come back later and do some more.

"If you start worrying about dementia then you are finished. I carry on and get on with my life.

"I'm used to working, it's daunting when I don't work, and I love the music. I find music is good for me, it's medication."

Speaking about the initial diagnosis, Christie, who lives in Lichfield, said: "I was a little bit down but I thought, 'I can still work, it’s not affecting my singing, my voice, my show'."

While his long term memory is still clear, the singer admits he struggles to remember things in recent times.

But he sees a positive in the situation in that if it encourages other people to get tested and go on medication, then he will be pleased.

Christie previously told how a test two years ago revealed a small build up of plaque on his brain was leading to memory problems.

He said: 'I've noticed for a few years now that my memory has been getting worse, which is a serious concern especially as there's history of dementia in my family."

He revealed he has had to write down his bandmates' names as to ensure he doesn't introduce them wrongly on stage.

And at a gig in Germany the I Did What I Did For Maria singer got the city he was in wrong, thinking he was in Hamburg when really he was in Leipzig.

He explained that although he tried to make a joke of it, the moment was "actually no laughing matter for me".

Although Tony's hits included Las Vegas and I Did What I Did For Maria, Amarillo was his first song to sell a million copies.

The catchy tune was a hit again when in 2005 it was used by Peter Kay for a Comic Relief video.

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