Dieter and new band Made In England started their first UK Tour on May 3, 2001. We publish an interview with the Great Pretender
George Matlock: Dieter, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It’s a German name isn’t it? But has it got anything to do with Elton’s former tour sponsor, Diet Coke?
Dieter Graham: Yes, although I don’t speak the language, and the only thing Diet is short for is Dieter, rather like Pete is short for Peter!
GM: You were on UK TV contest Stars in their Eyes in 1991. How did that come about? And did you win that contest?
DG: It came about by accident really. I didn’t apply, and I didn’t impersonate “Elton” at that time. I didn’t win either, but feel rather it launched me as an impersonator, and I feel that I’m still learning to master what I’ve set out to do since then.
GM: How long have you been doing the Elton look-a-like and sound-a-like act? And I never asked how old you are?
DG: Some 10 years now, although I’ve always been a singer in my own right. I’m 43.
GM: You also do a fine vocal on Billy Joel. I’d say it’s uncanny. Some fans told me at Chatsworth House in June you should have been brought in to replace Billy taken ill at Wembley Stadium in 1998! Which came first? The Elton or Billy act?
DG: Strangely both, I’ve been singing now for some 30 years, and both Elton and Billy inspired me in the beginning, hence the vocal likeness to them, you know it’s All About Soul !
GM: Which act is more popular?
DG: That’s a ridiculous question!
GM: Who helped you decide to do Elton John as an act?
DG: It was probably my brother John, he always thought that I sounded like him (Elton).
GM: Are you actually a fan of Elton, or do you just admire him?
DG: If you mean do I have a shrine? No! And if you admire someone. then you must be a fan!
GM: Do you have a large Elton John collection? And what’s your prized item?
DG: Only a modest amount of CDs and perhaps the rare masters double CD I always felt that his B sides were as good as his A sides.
GM: What’s your favourite Elton John song?
DG: I don’t have a particular one, as I feel that any one particular song can mean different things to the individual at any one moment in time.
GM: Do you have an Elton song which you don’t like?
DG: L.S.D. (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds).
GM: What other music do you like? And what other interests do you have?
DG: I like all kinds of music, from contemporary country through to trance. It’s good not to be stale in musical tastes. Interests? Travel, sport, charities, living!
GM: Have you seen Elton solo recently?
DG: Unfortunately not, my role as impersonator takes up quite a bit of my time.
GM: Now, you have some exciting things going on with your act. No more of the funny (what I call spoof) things. You’re now going ever-so-serious with the act and a new band. Tells us more about it.
DG: The show consists of a live band, keys, drums, guitar, bass, and 4 girls, all-singing dancing troupe with a 32-costume change, and its bloody exciting for me!
GM: What’s the band called? And will you take the band on tour across Europe?
DG: “MADE IN ENGLAND” is the name we’ve decided on, and hopefully next year (2001) will see us tour, we’re in talks at this moment in time, and there are a lot of proposals being looked at!
GM: What’s the background of the other band members? Are they really like Davey Johnstone, John Jorgenson, Nigel Olsson, and Dee Murray? Where did they come together from? And how much hard graft has it been to perfect their sound and act to appear like the Elton John Band?
DG: The band sound very authentic. But I wouldn’t say they are all lookalikes! The band have had previous experience within the Theatre and corporate market with a female singer, who shall at this moment remain nameless.
GM: I have. I think she’s a bloke in drag! You’ll have to see the act to know the truth, however. Regrettably you don’t play keyboards. That doesn’t affect your act, which is strong on choreography and your singing talents. Do the band play their instruments?
DG: Indeed they do, but I do play the piano, but not on the gig.
I still have another trick up my sleeve for you, but that I will save for a later date.
GM: Apart from entertainment, what other professions have you followed, since most “Stars in their Eyes” contestants have other lives too?
DG: I’ve worked down the mines, and for the odd TV company, and I’ve even been a chauffeur in the past, and occasionally used to drive James Mansion, the deposed president of the Seychelles around, but I’ve been a professional singer now for more than 20 years, and it’s where my heart and soul are at!
GM: Apart from that TV series, what other shows or highlights have there been in your show career?
DG: Various network TV shows both here in England as well as New Zealand and Australia, plus a string of regional stations, an advert for BBC 1 advertising Radio 2. Also vocal credits to Unfinished Buisness (BBC drama), and of course Reeves and
Mortimer show Shooting Stars live theatre tour for six weeks,
where I opened the show every night. Yes I am mad!
GM: Well I didn’t ask whether you’re mad. But your CV reads true. New Zealand Hercules member Vicki Armstrong says she saw you down there some years ago! What does your family think of you doing these gigs?
DG: They are quite proud, but it’s something I do for a living so when I’m at home I’m me, I don’t have an identity crises, I know firmly who I am and what I want, and sometimes the stress of being away for long periods can be difficult for the family, as well as myself.
GM: Will you perform for our Convention in a special tribute act Contest in the USA next spring?
DG: I will always try to be there, as you well know, except with the band and one thing and another. It could prove tricky, but I will do whatever I can to be there, providing there is enough notice there shouldn’t be a problem. But I can tell you I love doing your conventions, I get such a buzz, because the audience love it so much, it’s great fun mate!!!
Dieter was interviewed after his storm show at Devonshire Arms Hotel near Chatsworth House, attended by 100 fans, June 2000
T.V. credits include appearances on ITV/BBC/SKY/Meridan as well as Network T.V. in Australia and New Zealand. Appearances at London’s Cafe Royal, Dorchester, The Grosvenor House, The Inn on the Park, Madame Tussaud’s and Rock Circus as well as shows attended by various members of the Royal Family.
Dieter was also a regularly feature star of “The Great Legends of Rock”. International tours included Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Dubai, Jordan, Beirut, Kuwait, Seychelles and New Zealand.