New York singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka wrote the song along with lyricist Howard Greenfield. Though he knew it was a good song, Sedaka told The Daily Mail
June 19, 2009 that he is surprised at the manner in which it has endured.
He explained: "It was originally a rough demo on a cassette. Tony Christie's manager came to see me, saying he had a new singer who sounded a bit like Tom Jones
. I played him Amarillo and he immediately liked it. I cut a reggae version of it myself, but Tony's was catchier and more upbeat. When they revived it in 2005, I thought it was amusing. But then Tony started sending me messages updating me on its progress in the charts. It was totally unexpected, but I guess it's a timeless song; one from the old Brill Building tradition."