The Christians are a musical ensemble from Liverpool, England, who had several UK and international chart hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The name of the band refers to the surname of the three brothers that were originally in the line-up, and is also coincidentally guitarist Henry Priestman's middle name.
Garry Christian (born 27 February 1965, Liverpool) (lead vocals), Roger Christian (born 13 February 1950; died 8 March 1998 from brain tumour) (vocals, instrumentalist), Russell Christian (born 8 July 1956) (keyboards, saxophone, vocals), and Henry Priestman (born Henry Christian Priestman, 21 June 1955, in Kingston upon Hull, brought up in Liverpool) (keyboards, guitars, vocals) formed the band in 1985. Paul Barlow (drums), Mike Bulger (guitar/vocals) and Tony Jones on bass were also early members. Because of a reluctance to tour, Roger left in 1987.
In Rock: The Rough Guide, critic Charles Bottomley, described them as "The Temptations in ripped jeans, producing gritty-centred songs in a sugary vocal shell".
Their first five singles all made the Top 40 in Britain, and their debut album The Christians (1987) entered the UK Albums Chart at number 2. It eventually sold over a million copies. The highest-placed single from this album was "Ideal World", which reached number 14 in the UK Singles Chart.
In 1988, they released a cover of the Isley Brothers' "Harvest for the World", with all proceeds going to charity. The video for the track was an animation, created by four leading animation companies, including Aardman Animations. The video won several awards, and the single reached number 8 in the UK singles chart, their sixth consecutive British Top 40 hit.
1989 saw another charity single success, this time as performers on a version of "Ferry Cross the Mersey", released in aid of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster. The single stayed at number one for several weeks (No. 5 in Germany).
Their second album, Colour, released in 1990, reached number one in the UK Albums Chart and yielded the international hit "Words", which was No. 18 in the UK (including the Hillsborough charity single their eighth consecutive UK Top 40 hit) and Sweden, No. 5 in the Netherlands (for two weeks), and No. 1 in France (also for two weeks). The second single from the album, "I Found Out", reached No. 22 in France (No. 56 in the UK). In 1992, the following LP, Happy in Hell, charted at number 18. Its single, "What's in a Word", entered the UK Top 40 (their 9th single release to do so), and was a Top 20 hit in France (with a total chart run of 19 weeks); it also entered the German Top 75, reaching No. 60.
The early 1990s saw the band continuing to tour. A greatest hits album, The Best of the Christians, was released in 1993, and peaked at number 22.
Break up and reformation
Garry Christian moved to Paris in 1995 to record a solo album, effectively breaking up the band, although no formal announcement was made, and the door was open to future reformation. In 1998 founding member Roger Christian died from a brain tumour. In 1999 The Christians began to perform together again in an "unplugged" acoustic format. They carried out a thirty-six date tour of the UK, with a similar tour undertaken in 2000, with guitarist and songwriter Paul Campbell, who accompanied them on all of their tours until 2003.
By 2001, The Christians began to write songs for Prodigal Sons, which was released in 2003. This was supported by a UK tour in October 2003, and further promotion in France, Spain and UK throughout 2004.
In 2005, Russell Christian decided he no longer wished to tour, and a decision was made to return to a full band format, rather than the four-man "unplugged" line-up that had been touring since 1999. This new "band" comprising Garry Christian (lead vocals), Joey Ankrah (singer, guitar), Neil Griffiths (singer and acoustic guitar), Cliff Watson (bass guitar), Lionel Duke (drums), Mike Triggs (keyboards) was unveiled on the 2009 tour. A download single (released on download on 5 March 2010) was a cover of Cat Stevens' "Where Do the Children Play?", reviewed by the musician himself as "better than his own version".
2012 was the 25th anniversary for the band, who celebrated with a re-release of The Christians and Colour. A new album called Speed of Life was released in September, with the title track the first single. In August they embarked on a tour of the UK and, on 16 December, they played at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre. They were briefly joined on stage by former band member, Henry Priestman.
Between September 2013 and January 2014, the Christians toured with Go West and Hue & Cry on a 32 date tour of the UK. Their most recent single, "Inner City Blues", was released in September 2013.