|Posted by Pedro.Eurovisionontop on May 11, 2017 at 1:50 PM|
The 2nd Semi Final of the Eurovision Song Contest is about to start. What less people know, it is an anniversary for a verz special composer. Its the 25th entree of Ralph Siegel at the contest. This time once again for San Marino.
Some time ago Eurovision on Top had the unique and amazing possibility to speak to the one and only "Mr. Grand Prix" Ralph Siegel. No one knows that contest as good as him. Nobody wrote so many songs and no one had so many successes and also the experience of some lowlights. Read about the person Ralph, how Mr. Siegel feels, when he is called "Mr. Grand Prix", what he thinks about the Eurovision today and if he like more red or white wine.
We could directly start with questions about your almost 50 Grand Prix preselection participations or speaking about the nearly 20 entries in the final, about victories and defeat, about 2,000 songs written by you or the 30 million worldwide sold song of you. Instead of that our first question will be a different one. Did you as child liked spinach? And what was your absolute favorite food, what your mother should always cook for you?
Probably I liked no spinach like all the little children due to the reason that it was mostly bitter and till to today I love to eat the creamed version. My mother then hide all the drugs or vitamin pills in my favorite food "schnitzel with mashed potatoes with gravy much". If I would have had eaten e spinach instead of potatoes, perhaps today I would be a little bit slimmer.
Mr. Siegel in the first step I would like to introduce to our readers the person „Ralph Siegel“, himself. How would you introduce yourself to someone, who doesn‘t know who you are and never heard something about the Grand Prix of the ESC?
This is difficult to answer, because only my friends and family knows the real person Ralph Siegel, and for sure in the best way, my wife. What you almost read in the press are mostly facts about successes or defeats and most of the times superficial.
If someone in the USA ask me „Who are you? Where are you from and what do you do?“ I would simple answer: „I come from Germany, I am a composer, music producer, I write lyrics and work in the music industry for more than 50 years. I am a happy married person, have 3 wonderful children and five lovely grandchildren“ and perhaps that God has been very kind to me, because I can look back to 68 years of a very full and successful life.
With your permission I would like keep speaking about the person „Ralph“ and perhaps you would like to answer some short questions:
Red or white wine?
Of course it depends to the meal, but my favorite is white wine. Actually I like the most Sauvignon blanc „Cloudy Bay“ from New Zealand and when I drink a red one I like Tignanello from Italy.
Beach or mountains?
Beach and heat. As a child I loved to ski and had three times fractures in my shoulder, my arm and my foot.
Calm or choleric?
I am not so calm, but rarely I get choleric. It has to happen a lot to see me choleric.
Coffee or tea?
Usually coffee in the morning, ice tea at lunch and sometimes a irish coffee at the end of the day, to have a good close up.
City or country?
I am a city person, even I am a happy country grown up child. Big cities just offer more variety in all aspects.
Do sport or watching it?
To watch it is one of my hobbies, specially soccer, athletics and golf. Golf is the only one out of the three that I also use to do active. I love to do it with my wife and friends. Peanuts or chips?
None of both. I like macadamia nuts and wall nuts. And if I eat chips, than just with guacamole.
Potatoes or rice?
Baked potato, french fries, fried potatoes and rice pudding.
Introvert or extrovert?
Extroverted tendency, but as far as possible while remaining modest and quiet!
Cold or warm shower?
Warm at the beginning and at the end a very cold shower.
What does Ralph Siegel do, when he isn‘t writing a song?
Well - he makes a lot of things, which every normal person does too, because there is also a lot of things to do in the office or in the studio. This is the most time of my day. But my day starts with reading the newspaper and ends watching a bit the television. I like to watch talk shows or I watch the recordings of programs, which I wasn‘t able to see live.
You have been born in 1945 into and raised up in a family of musicians. Do you think, that this was the reason why you became a musician? Was that in 1945 kind of inherited? Did you really had the possibility to become something else?
I would have to write down the history of my life to answer that question. For sure there were clearly reasons, why I became a musician and composer, but also my grandfather was general music director in Krefeld (Germany), conductor and composer. As some people know also my parents have a musical background and are very known musicians. So we can assume that it already contains a particle of inheritance in me. Of course I could also be a theater director and film director, as most children of professionally successful parents do. Mostly children make something close to the profession of the parents, but rarely in the same profession. The conditions were of course very good, but also kinda difficult. Son of a famous father is nice but that is not enough, and can also be hard - to be as good or better than the father is almost impossible. But yeah - I also had the gene of the mother and all in all, yes it has worked more than good and I thank God every day for it.
Already with 5 years you played your first instrument and with 12 you wrote your first song and had a band. How successful was your band, were did you performed then and do you still have contact to the other band members?
So, a kids band with 6 playing the drums, for sure we shouldn't take it to serious. With the age of 10 I played in the „Franz Langheinrich Akkordeon Orchester“ and with 13 founded the „Peter Elversen Septett“ (my first pseudonym). A former friend and arranger wrote us parts of the song and the rest we played out of the salon orchestra portfolio. We didn‘t make it out through some carnival children events, country weddings. With 16 I connect to the quintet from Munich named „The Skyscrapers“ (at this moment I already played piano, accordion, drums and guitar) and at this time the carnival events were much better and were more fun. Most of the colleagues of that times died or I never saw them again. But it was more than 50 years ago.
In 1956 the Grand Prix were broadcasted for the first time. Do you remember that? Did you watch it with 11? Can you remember the reaction of your parents about this modern things at that time?
To be honest I can‘t remember it. And just a long time after it I knew that my father already in 1957 wrote the lyrics for Margot Hielscher for the „Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson“ of the song „Telefon, Telefon“. At that time we didn‘t sit in front of the TV. Only sometimes for the show of Fritz Benscher and his Tick Tack Toe - Quiz and the first cooking show of all times Clemens Wilmenrod. That I can remember. And for sure the few soccer games. But my parents were already involved in the after war medias and my father performed in a lot of television shows as „Der Blaube Bock“ or „Was bin ich?“. My father was well traveled and made a lot of business and musical connections with partners all over the world within north and south America and mostly whole Europe. He loved music and his life as a musician, as I do. But he had to survive to world wars and for sure as a lot of other people it was more difficult for them, then today. I am still eternally thankful to my parents that they gave me the possibility to make experiences all over the world and to learn out of it.
Mr. Siegel, what would you say is the difference between you and a music producer of today? Are you still a song writer from the „old school“, someone who knows the handiwork from the base?
I think that we need to make a difference between a producer and a song writer. That are two totally different professions and there a people who can make both very well. A producer has the responsibility for a lot things. Usually he is the partner of the recording company and has the artistic management as responsibility. Mostly the financial aspects are also part of his work. He selects together with the artist the songs and then the execution starts. How does it sounds at the end - and how does the artist sing? Loud or quietly? Warm or cool? More orchestra or more strings? This is no easy decision, as you have to keep in mind and be aware, that the musical career of the artist can depend a lot of the outcome. The composer and lyric writer delivers in general the demo version with lyrics and with that the producer searches for the right artist and how to produce it. Of course, today there are a lot of composers, who produce at the same time. But the old school of the successful producer had the rule that the song is the most important thing for the artist and the composer. That was the reason why a lot of cover versions were produced and huge successes were translated into german or got new lyrics.
„Die kleine Kneipe“ (’t kleine café aan de haven) of Pierre Kartner with Peter Alexander is one of the best examples of the work of a producer. Sounds change every several month and of course I work with young arrangers and artists. Though I very often miss the beautiful time of live productions. Every time we work with live orchestras I have that nostalgic feelings.
Very often you are called „Mr. Grand Prix“. Do you like it? Does it make you proud? Or does it make it you a bit sad, because the Grand Prix is just a part of your musical work, even a small part of that?
Of course, I am happy about that, because it proves that I made a lot to get such a name. There is only one more person being called so, Jonny Logan who deserved this name as composer and artist. Even if there are a few more people thinking they should be named Mr. Gran Prix too. At the other hand, everyone who searched a bit about my musical work, knows what I did in my professional career. Peter Alexander, Rex Gildo or Roy Black haven‘t never been to the ESC. And Gerhard Polt, Willi Astor or Erwin Pelzig definitely haven‘t been at Eurovision and are an example for my work outside Eurovision. Udo Jürgens had already been at the Grand Prix when he came to me and I produced his comeback („Der Teufel hat den Schnaps gemacht“, „Griechischer Wein“, „Ein ehrenwertes Haus“ ect.) and Vicky Leandros („Verlornes Paradies“ too. The work as music producer or publisher (many years member of the board of the GEMA) and chief of the label Jupiter Records occupied a lot of time of my life. Out of that there were also outcomes in the Silver Convention („Fly Robin fly“ - Nr.1 in the USA ) or Penny Mc Lean („Lady Bump“ or Dee D. Jackson („ Automatic lover“ ) – artists who were recommended to me by friends of mine, who were composer and producers. I am every day proud that the geniuses Dr. Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levai gave into our hands the unknown songs and artists, to bring them out to the world and to make them successful. In the 70‘s and the 80‘s I made a lot of friendships and partnerships with international artists like Mireille Mathieu, Patrik Duffy or Dolly Parton etc. As well as to international publish houses like MCA, Bob Mellin, Bruce Springsteen or the Village People, just to name some of them. The Grand Prix was always a highlight in the year, but the rest of the year was full of several happy and successful moments, but also less successful moments, which always make part in every work and life.
You wrote more than 2000 songs, sold them worldwide more than 30 Mio. times. 154 of your songs were in the charts, some of them in the top 10 and even number 1 hits, including in the USA! A retirement would be more than deserved. Why do you continue to write songs?
It is like if you ask a painter why he continues to paint or to a poet why he continues to write poems. Artists live for their art of create, build and discover. If I just think about Robert Stolz or Irving Berlin, than I should at least compose and write songs for 20 to 30 years. Perhaps I will write a lot of beautiful songs in the next years. Sounds, grooves and beats are time phenomena’s, good melodies and lyrics are timeless. But of course it always comes back to the performers and the best song rarely works with a poor artist - But a good artist can also have a lot of success in spite of an average song, because the real fans love almost everything he does or sings. But I also need to say that I probably no longer would live without music, because the work has brought me again and again back from the most depths health points of my life and given me the strength to live again.
Of course there couldn‘t miss the question about your favorite song out of all the songs you wrote.
There are so many different songs which I like, because of different reasons. I think about Nicole, with her I made so many nice songs in the last 2 years, which I wrote together with good lyric writer friends. There isn‘t even just „Ein bisschen Frieden“ and Peter Alexander - beginning with „Der Papa wird‘s schon richten“ till „Feierabend. Or „Dschingis Khan“ and „Moskau“. Songs which went out to the whole world. And for sure „Theater“ and „Johnny Blue“ Out of the almost unknown songs my favorite is „From here to Eternity“ sang by Mrs. Kriemhild, one beautiful song which was for Eurovision, but the German jury didn‘t select it.
I have learned that you also wrote a song for me. „Pedro“ What was the reason for that song?
Yes, but I didn‘t know that you sang in the garden of Peter Alexander and that you plays mandolin at midnight. Just kidding. I have written the song together with Michael Holm 40 years ago. And it was a hit. A funny song which a lot of people still remember. Unhappily Peter died some years ago and we all miss him a lot. For sure he was one of the best entertainers of all times. I adored and loved him.
You wrote like about 50 song for the Grand Prix / Eurovision Song Contest and about 20 of them did it to the grand final. And with no doubt the highlight was in 1982 with Nicole‘s victory. What were your Eurovision highlights and very there any lowlights?
As you mention it, yes I wrote a lot of songs for national finals. And in the past it was the way, that the songs were submitted anonymous, the jury chose which song they liked the most or thought will be the best and just after that the composer and lyric writer was announced. That was more effective and more fair than today. I wrote since 1970 till 1995, every year, 6 to 10 songs, which we submitted as demo versions. And out of that as you know 50 songs made it into the German national selection. I had the luck, that the audience very often like my songs and that they selected them. I represented Germany 14 times and made 1 time a number 1. Place, 3 times a 2. place and 2 times a 3. place, even with Dschingis Khan, which made it around the world, I made a 4th place. You need to know that the competition out there is very big, so that sometimes there are live acts which really go bad, because that it doesn‘t work good in an acoustic way or looks bad on the screen. That happened for example with Corinna May. I was so sad I felt like to cry, everything went wrong, I was so worry for Corinna because it wasn‘t her fault. Sometimes there is a bit of luck missing. If in 1981 Switzerland would have given Germany only 1 point Lena Valaitis would have won with „Jonny Blue“ and also „Theater“ Katja and I missed the victory by 9 points. Defeats or losing sometimes is really sad, especially when you think that you have written the song, which can bring your country back to the top and than the song isn‘t selected for the national final. Songs which weren‘t selected for the national final can‘t be seen or listen, that means that there is no chance for that songs, which I wrote in the last ten years for Germany, which the German broadcasters rejected. That feels bad, first of all for the artists, which at my point of view sang the song very good. For sure it was logic that I started to offer my songs in other countries. But to be selected in other countries is more difficult, as you have limited PR possibilities, known Stars or Fanclubs. The best moments of Eurovision for sure were the victories, but also third places as with Mekado and Sürprize, when nobody thought we will have a chance. A very bad moment was in 2013, when Valentina didn‘t pass - there were so many people speaking good things about the song and already about a Eurovision 2014 in San Marino. And then we were out.
1970, 1980 and 1990 were your most successful years, you wrote a lot of hits. Also at the Grand Prix you had one success after the other in the 90s. You mentioned it in the answer before. What was your secret of being so successful?
I don‘t think that I was better than today, on the contrary. Now I am more experienced and have more musical education comparing with those times. The criteria of the selections have totally changed. There aren‘t any longer searching for the best song or one which has the chance to win. They just manage viewing figures. Almost that is the most important thing. That’s how the music industry works, which provide the artists. And also this industry manages the shows and the program, where they try to place songs, they plan to release, that is without thinking in the international competition. Very often they don‘t care about that - only when one wins and has to perform, the things change - with one lucky exception of Lena. The only man who is able to manage both, high viewing figures and potential winners is Thomas Schreiber (NDR). But also he only gets what the industry offers to him. That was the reason why they decided to involve once again more the audience and what was the result. The youtube under dogs, the unknown band won the national final and travel to Copenhagen - no industry song (meanwhile ELAIZA has already a contract). I almost made it, when nobody knew that it was my song, that’s a sad fact. I won to many times and a lot of people didn‘t like it. That I supported so many artist in their starting and making their musical career, was forgotten very fast and so the last 10 year everything I offered in Germany was rejected. Sad about the artists and the lyric writers, they deserved a chance. My secret receipt always was: „perfect live singing performance of the solo singers, at groups the overall impression is important, with lyrics that can also be understood internationally and melodies which keep in your head. Also the image of the artist is very important and the view on the screen. It has to go straight to the heart and to speak positive to them, the way they keep it in mind and hopefully will remember to vote for it at the end.“ To be able to provide this requirements you need time, love to what you are doing, a matching artist and unfortunately you need also money. In due that there is lesser music selling out of the contest than in the past, the industry isn‘t quite interested as in the past. Exception is when they are already planning to release an album with that artist. Well, perhaps my artist will get a chance again and till that I have to offer my songs in Europe, what is more difficult, as I told, but still fills my heart and that’s for me a reason to live and to work.
You have been born in 1945 at the end of a tragic period of the german history. 1979 and twenty years later in 1999 you have been in Israel. How was this two times for you? What was in 1999 different comparing with 1979? How important was it for you to make a 4. place with Dschinghis Khan and a 3. place with Sürpriz?
Israel is a complex topic for Germans. At one side there is the political history and background and at the other hand the unbelievable history of Israel and the Jews. Jerusalem itself was fascinating and can‘t get out of your mind the people at the Wailing Wall and even out of your heart. When we travelled in 1979 with Dischingis Khan we had no idea what would happen to us and then they celebrated us and the song. The song is still a popular song in Israel. In 1999 we travelled to Israel as second choice, in due that Corinna May was disqualified, because her song (Hör den Kindern einfach zu) had been already released in english before. Anyhow we made a 3. place and got a better result the German press thought before. For such a good result Germany had to wait for a long time, till Lena‘s „Satellite“ song, written by a danish / american composer duo. In Jerusalem it was fascinating because we went there with a German / Turkish group and we sang the end of the song „Reise nach Jerusalem“ (Journey to Jerusalem) in hebrew. Out for a visit at Yad Vashem and our honoring visit will keep eternally in my mind. When we arrived in Germany we read just a small article on the front page of a big german newspaper „Sürpriz only 3.“ that was all. For me it always was important to reach a good result, as you are representing a country and you want to make a good impression. And at the other hand the result for sure is very important for the artist who is participating and his future is impacted by that. Already alone by this reason I give my best every time.
Let us continue to speak about Sürpriz. That wasn‘t a surprise that you send them to the contest. That means, sending a German / Turkish group to Israel, that was a kind of message, or not?
The foundation of the group in fact was a surprise. In September of 1998 I was sad in a Taxi on the way to the Oktoberfest in Munich, during that the taxi driver was listening to turkish music and sang. We started to speak and he told me about her friends and a band. It sounded so funny to my, so that I decided to meet the group and invited the band leader Chico to come to my studio. After that we made a casting to find the rest of the group and I started to look for an idea for this group. When Bernd Meinunger and I started to speak about where the journey in that year will go to, the title of the song was born and decided. I loved the idea and worked for weeks with the group as long as the song was to send it to the NDR. And the rest of the story you already know. The message was clear: Integration on the best musical level and in every respect.
How did you experienced that what you started with their participation in Germany? Do you think that started to change something in Germany with that? Germany just 15 years after that performance decided the double nationality for German / Turkish people.
My intention at the start was just personal and has a musical charm. But the month after that there was a lot of realities, sometimes really sad once. If we only had contribute a small piece to the fact that germans and turkish people understand each other better, so that we can live in a fantastic way together and also can make music together, than I am still happy today about that fact.
And then came the Millennium and the success of Ralph Siegel started to miss. What do you think were the reasons for that? Did you never arrived with your music at the Eurovision years of 2000?
Well, it depends how you look on the things. I thought that the song of Corinna May in the national final of Germany „I believe in God“ could made it, but against the „Waddehaddeduddeda“ Song of Stefan Raab the song only made a second place. The same happened to Nicole Süßmilch and Marco Mathias, they lost against Gracia. Lou made a happy 11. place and the bad result of Corinna was horrible. And before that we were a long time leading the international bets and polls. But it seemed as it should be. To be honest my tries after that to enter again in Germany into the Eurovision Business didn‘t work. So it did what a lot of musicians all over the world do. I started to provide with my songs other countries, as Malta, Moldavia, Spain, Switzerland and Austria. San Marino with the three participations came a bit closer to me. Who would have thought that before, that is what life brings or let us better say, the music.
Why did you start in 2005 under a pseudonym?
I did it a lot of times (for example „Lass die Sonne in dein Herz“ - as a lot of authors. It has the advantage that you don‘t have this prejudices, but in 2005 the NDR forced me to let the people know that I was the composer behind the song and after that my loved artists Nicole and Mathias got second. Perhaps we would have won with the pseudonym. But so difficult is the job - we can‘t fade out certain animosities of fans and competitors. Who had so many successes as I for sure made same „self made enemies“ or let it say this way - the fans of our competitors, which lost against us, they connect this automatically with they anger to me and still feel the worries. This brings them to put it on me or my new artist. This is sad and let the wrong people suffer, people who didn‘t have nothing to do with that.
How was your experience about the changes in 2010 at the German nation final and the victory of Lena?
To be honest - totally relaxed! Perhaps a little bit sad because I had prepared and offered some songs - also for Lena - but they were once again rejected. The lead for this selection the NDR delegated to the company Brainpool and Stefan Raab and they made an amazing result out of it. I was a long time of that spring in the USA and followed everything interested and I was very happy for all involved people. I gave my congratulations to Lena and hoped for the next year. But there was already everything decided. And since then I am waiting year after year. Perhaps one day a jury or producer will once again chose a song out of our producer company, which now is smaller than before. But God will for sure lead everything the right way.
What would you say is the biggest difference between the Gran Prix and the Eurovision Song Contest? What changed? What of that do you see as positive and what perhaps as negative?
I always sad „everything changes“ - the cars, the radios, the watches, the people and the animals - no the animals almost don‘t change, expect when they are fed with hormones, what I really don‘t like! But the main differences are that in the past the base of the show was a live orchestra and today there is a half playback version of the song. The director in the past bowed and counted to start the orchestra playing, that was nice. I just remember the first notes I played as part of the intro of „Theater“, with my white gloves and clowns on it and how exciting that was. In the past the jury had to occupy themselves more with the song and had to vote at less 10 songs and because of the 10 and 8 point rule there was this moment when a song started to lead. Today the audience is just voting for one song, their favorite and that is the reason why the voting brings an different view on it. Anyway - now there is again a professional jury and I think it is good to have it. Another main difference is in due to the early release of the songs and the artist - at my point of view - the songs very early are praised or criticized. To often it is about how good or bad video is and for sure sometimes it has to be very hard for the artist to travel to the semi final or the grand final reading bad news and bad rankings in advance. Everything can change, we already had the proof for that. But in the past the jury heard the songs a short time before the show and that contributed to make it more interesting, exciting and abit more fair.
As San Marino just has 35.000 habitants, it is obvious that they have less clicks on their videos on youtube comparing with Germany (80.000.000 habitants). Thinking this way 130.000 hits in two weeks aren‘t such a bad result for San Marino. What also changed a lot are the fabulous and huge light shows and the arenas capacities (till 30.000). That for sure has an impact on the overall impression and you still can be astonished about what the producers and directors are able to afford. But several times it was bad for the sound because the big surrounding in huge arenas do have an impact on the microphones of the artists and that doesn‘t make it easy for the sound directors.
What does the Grand Prix have meant for your life? Was is it just a competition, which helped you to be able to sell your music, a kind of hobby or a big passion?
The Grand Prix or the ESC always meant a lot to me, but also the Tokio Yamaha Music Festival, the golden Lyra Award in Bratislava or the Coupe d‘Europe etc. Music, festivals bring people together and support a possibility to publish songs in foreign countries and to make them known. It is also nice to get recognition from the whole Europe and also from South Africa and many more countries. Perhaps you don‘t know but the Grand Prix made it happen that in South Africa more than one hundred songs of mine are sang in Afrikaans. On this trips I made a lot of contacts and found new friendships. It is just unique to get the chance to present a song to two hundred million people worldwide. When do you get this chance? Throughout this contest I was able to give a lot of artists the possibility to show what they can on this amazing stage and to find new fans. The Grand Prix or ESC for sure isn‘t my hobby, but also not my life. It keeps me alive, because perhaps without this fantastic challenge I wouldn‘t be any longer making this job and perhaps I was already joining my father and mother in the sky.
Nicole, is the women who stayed the longest time at your side, you said once. It‘s now more than 30 years ago that you two won the Grand Prix. Today Nicole has 18 released albums - 4 million sold singles. How much did the Grand Prix helped the duo of Ralph Siegel & Nicole?
I am sure it didn‘t help just Nicole, but also Bernd Meinunger and Robert Jung and the ARD, Bayern and Germany. It still is the complete German victory, sang in german, a german composer, lyric writer and producer and the song until today awakes great feelings. The people at this evening were really enthusiastic and still are happy when Nicole sings it at the end of events in one of the German cities. The audience still loves to sing the song with her and they all feel very happy. That still makes me happy. Nicole and I worked together for almost a quarter century and still are friends. And yes you can say that the Grand Prix contributed to that. Such a unique experience made a union. By the way we made also a 2. place in Tokio and Bratislava and had success and a lot of fun. It sounds great when you speak about millions of sold singles but, if you think about the facts that you have to pay salaries of a lot of people it becomes relative.
You got two times the Bundesverdienstkreuz (federal cross of merit), the world music award of excellence in the USA and the most important German award „Echo“ in 2007 for your life‘s work. What do these prizes mean to you?
I also can be proud of the „Bayerischen Verdienstorden“ and the „Paul Linke Ring“ and a lot of other honoring awards. You just can be thankful about that and happy. Some weeks ago for example I got the „Pfälzer Saumagen Orden“ award from a lovely carnival association „wieder den Neidhimmel“ from Nürnberg. That are heartwarming awards, which bring a lot of joy to me and which are gave to me from honest people.
Let us know, what are you proud of?
Specially I am proud of my whole family, that means also proud of my parents and grandparents. They built the base for my life and I am thankful, that I am able to have a life full of music and entertainment. A lot of people have great jobs, but aren‘t happy doing them. At that point I have a lot of luck. Proud of my wonderful children and grandchildren, as well as of my grandiose lovable even unique woman Kriemhild, who still use to sing. She always stands by my side, also in hard times. At a professional point I am sure I can be proud of my work in general, where not just I made profit, but also because of the artist, lyric writers, composers and employees in all the projects in companies I worked. A lot of them today are self-employed, very successful colleagues and enjoy a good reputation. I don‘t want to mention names, otherwise I will forget names.
What would you suggest to all the song writers and to the singers for the Eurovision of today?
Come, let us work together and enjoy this wonderfully beautiful profession - but do not forget that it can take weeks and months to write a good song, and to produce and if you're unlucky, no one understands "how good it is" - because tastes are different and that makes it always exciting. Generally, I would say, "Write songs that come from the heart and guide yourself by sounds and beats" - at the end there are just two important things: the song and the artist.
At the end of the interview I would like to come back to the person Ralph Siegel. How did the Grand Prix or ESC marked your musical work and also influence you personally?
The Grand Prix didn‘t mark my musical work, as I started to be musician with the age of 5 years and raised up with that. My parents and my environment where I grew up marked me. For sure there were other sings marking my musical life: in the young years learning about music, then being part of a band, the professional work in Paris, Nashville Tennessee and New York. Also the enthusiasm for Bob Dylan, Donovan, the Beach Boys, Peter Paul and Mary. I studied the Motown Stars, also the Beatles, the Rolling Stones but also George Gershwin, Cole Porter and a lot of other german role models marked my musical career. Christian Bruhn and Bert Kaempfert, also James Last and Henry Mayer were the best role models and for sure my blessed and talented father. The Grand Prix had the consequence, that I got known as composer, the persons who normally keep unknown, and got a person of publicity and of the press. That, has good but also not so good things. First of all because you also make mistakes and don‘t be all the time successful. But also defeats make you stronger and stronger and through that I learnt never to give up, even when it hurts. „After the ESC is before the ESC“. Thank you ESC and EBU.
What was the most important victory in your life? Perhaps the victory against the disease in 2010?
Of course to beat cancer - not just once, but in 2007/8 and then again in 2010 and I would not have the wonderful support of my wife Kriemhild, I would probably no longer be on this earth.
„Mr. Grand Prix“, in the next year you will (so God will) celebrate your 70th birthday. Will you then go to retirement or will you continue to work on the first top 10 ranking of Siegel in the 2000s?
„Dear Pedro“, I hope that we finally will have a bit of luck (we were twice 11. in the semifinal) and that Valetina Monetta this year makes it to the final. I would be so happy for her. There are a lot of people who love the song „maybe“ so much and think that it is the best song I wrote in the last years. I also have a lot of friends who cried because of the emotion they felt, when they listen to it the first time, not in the internet but yes with a good equipment. Other friends don‘t stop to compare it with the last year song „Crisalide“, which unfortunately didn‘t make it to the final. But you can‘t compare them as they are totally different, but yes the both are played in moll and then with Valentina’s voice it sounds melancholic and as a ballad. In any case, I wish her with all my heart that the fans will call for her and that she finally have the chance to make it to the final, so that millions of people can watch her and she can show her great vocal quality. Then it might even work out again this year to be there in the top 10. The lovely God will keep it in his eye.
Eurovision On Top feels proud and very thankful for having the possibility for this interview, the longest of his life as Mr. Siegel told us. But how could we make a shorter interview to "Mr. Grand Prix" and his life's work? We wanted to make a honoring tribute to this fantastic person, who as no one else helped the Eurovision to be what it is today. If there would be an Eurovision Song Contest prize for the best personality ever, Eurovision On Top is sure that Mr. Ralph Siegel would deserve to win it.
Pedro de Almeida