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4 Oct 2008

The Eltonite's Day: People, Get up, please, here we have... the boss: Stephan Heimbecher!!!!!!!!

I am an enthusiastic fan of fanzines, I have to confess it. When I found "Hercules" was such important for me because Elton wasn't very popular in Spain and I thought I was the only interested in Elton. "Hercules" gave me the information I couldn't find in regular papers. "Hercules" became eltonfan and I found a great community, maybe like a family. For the GYBR week, the second to last allsongslist one year on, I should invite someone very special. One of those everybody adore. I am talking about "Hercules" master, our boss. People, bite your lip, get up, and read this fantastic conversation with Stephan.

But first… Could you tell us, more, who are you and where are you from?

I am Stephan Heimbecher, 40 years old, living in Munich in the south of Germany with my wife Christiane (we met through the fan club) and daughter Amy (4 years old). In my professional life I am working as Head of Innovations & Standards for Premiere Fernsehen, a German PayTV operator. I am running the Elton John fan club for more than 20 years, but I also founded Red Ribbon Germany, a group to support the fight against Aids (see

Great!! When you became an Eltonite? Remember the first time you heard Elton’s music and what moves you to buy his music?

I don’t remember the first time I heard an Elton John song, but of course I remember when this had an impact on me for the first time. This was back in 1983 on a trip to England with my school class. Every evening we went to a local pub and played pool and darts. And whoever lost a game had to feed the jukebox and select “Buffalo Soldier” which was kind of a class hymn for us back then (I don’t remember why). One night, we had been kicking that jukebox a bit too hard, so it would never play the song you selected, and when it was my turn to feed it with some coins and to select “Buffalo Soldier”, it played “I’m Still Standing” instead – three times in a row. I like the song and back home in Germany I went straight into the record store and bought “Too Low For Zero”. The rest is history.

OK! What was it like seeing Elton for the first time and how many concerts have you been? Have you even been front row? And also, could you tell us if you ever have been in touch with him?

I have seen 115 Elton shows since 1983. The very first show back in 1984 was a great experience, I returned for the next tour in 1986, and after that things kind of got out of control with me seeing more and more shows per tour and attending shows in all parts of the world. I have seen him 21 times at Madison Square Garden, for example. In my younger days and back when there were no seats on the floor, I would often go in the front row. But I always prefer to see a show from different angles when I attend many shows in a row.

I also have been backstage a couple of times and I think I could write a book about those experiences …

You should, really! How it was, and still is, the success of Elton in your country? Which have been his hits in sales terms? And which are the german's favourite Elton's albums or songs? And could you still hear Elton's music in the radio, nowadays? And which should do Elton's next step in his music career?

Quite frankly, that’s very hard to say. The music (scene) has changed a lot in the past years and decades during which I have been an Elton fan. The last Elton album that went to number one in Germany was “The One”, if I remember correctly. Since then, chart success has been relatively small. I would say that “Two Low For Zero” as well as “The Lion King” were big in Germany and had a huge impact on generating new fans.

If I had a say on what Elton should do next, I would recommend something in the style of a Cole Porter album.

Which Elton’s appearance on a TV show you remember most, and why? Could you see Elton’s concerts on TV? And some interview with Elton? There is an old legend in my country that says a television paid lots of money to have Elton on their show but the TV shares were very low. They called the “effect Elton John” and it appears that the televisions have taken very seriously since then to bring on a big star...

Well, there was a live TV show back in 1989 where Elton performed, and I was also part of that show. In fact, I “performed” with a bunch of other amateur musicians right before he came on stage and hence I am still claiming that I once have been Elton’s support act … which of course is a joke. Elton has always been a regular guest on German television, although in the past years he has appeared not too often. Usually he comes to promote a new single or album and that has been a while as we all know.

Well, you know this is the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Week... Every time is a discussion between "GYBR" and "Captain Fantastic" in eltonites boards about best original album. The double album has some of Elton's best ever composed songs and with Bernie's fine lyrics... 1973 was an special year for Elton. GYBR may should had other hits if the record company should have released "Harmony", "Roy Rogers" or "Grey Seal" as other singles, along the great success of singles like "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" or "Bennie And The Jets". Do you think that record company made a mistake with that? Should the album may had been a great Grammy winner then, in the same category of "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, for example? Oh... and your opinion about next GYBR Anniversary Show? A lost opportunity to see Elton and the band singin' it live?

Well, first of all, personally I like „Captain“ better than GYBR. As far as the record company having made the wrong decisions, I don’t know. I think it is very hard to judge on that now – 35 years later. Back then it was a totally different industry and market situation. Finally on the GYBR show, this sounds like a great event and I would love to have an opportunity of attending that, but I just cannot afford another trip to New York. NYC itself is always worth the trip, but on the other hand I wonder why these kind of shows always have to take place there. And what about the ticket prices!? It’s a benefit show, okay. But aren’t these the kind of events that (poor) fans would like to attend?

The Hercules Elton John Fan Club published 61 issues of a printed fanzine called first "Rocket Fan", later "Hercules", between 1988 and 2003. Why an Elton fan magazine and which experience, of doing it, stay with you? And which are your memories of it? Now we have the eltonfan website fortunetely...

When we started the fan club back in 1988, the Internet did not exist in the same form it exists today. Very few people had access to the Internet at that time, so if you wanted to spread information amongst a group of people with a common interest, i.e. Elton fans, you had to do it the old fashioned way. Doing the fanzine was always a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. To me it feels like ancient history if I remember it as the Internet has mad communicating and spreading information so much easier and so much faster. But back then this was all we had and today these fanzines are collector’s items.

Right. Which is your Elton’s item that you really appreciate, for being hard to get or for the happiness you’ve got to have it?

We have received a double gold „The One” presentation disk “presented to the German Elton John fan club”, and that was very cool. The other thing I remember is the single “Princess” with “The Retreat” as a b-side. I had been looking for that very hard to find item for years at almost any record fair I knew of.

Finally, could you tell me your five favourite Elton John’s songs in running order, for my AllSongsList, please?

That’s a tough one as that list always changes and also depends on my mood. But my all-time favourite Top 3 has been “Talking Old Soldiers”, “Ticking” and “Tonight”.

Thank you. Would you want to add some observation or suggestion, or something you want to say to other eltonites?

I have changed a lot over the years in how I express being an Elton fan. When I started, I had to buy all of his albums, and then all the regular singles. And when I had those, I looked for other rarities and continued to collect everything Elton. It was crazy and it was kind of and addiction. At some point in time I started to “collect” shows, i.e. I thought that I had to attend as many EJ shows as possible. But then suddenly I realized that it is all too much. I noticed that I was bored at times during a show as I had just been to the same show the night before and had heard a particular song far too often. Also, all the collectible items were just clogging my apartment. So I began to calm down and to concentrate on the real great things of being an Elton fan. And one of those things is that you get to know many wonderful people all over the world. So today, visiting an Elton show to me is much more about seeing old friends again than it is about seeing another Elton show.

Oh... Could you explain us something new about the fan convention in Munich, next november, Stephan?

Well, it was meant to be a big event to coincide with Elton’s show in Munich. However, I had to realize that many of the “new generation” Elton fans seem to not be interested in such an event. Back in the early Nineties we used to organize such get-togethers were very often and it was always a big success. But maybe that’s because back then people didn’t have such information overkill as they have these days via the Internet. Fifteen to twenty years ago, a fan convention was your only chance to meet other fans. Today, you can go to the chat room and you no longer have to leave your house to engage in a conversation with other fans. That’s a plus on the one hand, but on the other it “ruins” events such what was planned for November. I have now learned that lesson and I will have therefore downsized the event to a short meeting at the local Hard Rock Café before the show. See for more information.

Thanks a bunch, Stephan. Really a pleasure to chat with you. I get funny doing this interview with you, it was an enjoyable and worth experience for me.Thank you. Take care. See you in Munich to the Fan Convention event.

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