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Email Interview With Andrew Hearn

Dec 16, 2001
Can you tell us something about Andrew Hearn the person?

Well, I'm the editor and publisher of the UK's official Elvis Presley magazine. My office is about 60 miles South of London on the English coast, and it's here where Essential Elvis is designed and distributed all over the world.

Can you tell us in short your "Elvis history", what made become active in the Elvis-world?

Elvis had always been a massive part of my life, especially when I was growing up. My parents were serious fans and so his music was played almost constantly in our home, and it really was a big deal when Elvis films were shown on TV. I can clearly remember the whole family gathering around the TV eagerly waiting for the start of each movie. Always so colorful and with lots of harmless fun.

When Elvis died I was just nine years old but I can still recall the impact it had on the world and like so many fans of my age, it was this sad event and the global coverage that shook me into becoming a life-long fan. Apart from the loss of Diana, The Princess of Wales, I've never really felt such desperate sadness since. Such devastation is bound to leave a permanent mark on many millions, and it certainly did in my case.

Anyway, the fascination with Elvis Presley grew. Over twenty years later, and with the demise of Elvis Monthly, there seemed to be an obvious gap in the Elvis magazine market and I simply decided to fill it. A decision was made to launch a new Elvis magazine here in the UK and we got to work on producing such a publication. It was important to me that it was to be tasteful with an interesting content. Above all, it had to have a positive and modern approach to Elvis and his fans. We thought that something refreshing and overall entertaining would be welcomed in the Elvis world and we were right.

What is it like to do "Elvis Business" for a living?

It's a dream come true but it's important to be able to shut off once in a while otherwise you'll simply become crazy. We've met some wonderful people in the Elvis industry and we have gained some wonderful friends over the years. In a way, it's not really like a full time job at all. Can anyone lucky enough to be in my position honestly say that it's not a job that thousands of fans would enjoy doing? For the most part it's great fun but don't be fooled, it's pretty hard work too.

Over the years you've met a lot of people in the Elvis world, can you share some memories with us?

There's not all that many people that I haven't met and just about all of them have been a joy to talk to and spend time with. It usually starts with the invitation to take part in an interview for the magazine and in almost every case, we make an effort to keep in touch allowing us to have access to inside information on just about any aspect of Elvis' career and personal life. If we need to know something, we usually head for the people that were actually there rather than reference books or hearsay. It's an important part of offering fans a first hand account of the story and our interviews are always to the point and direct.

What's your fascination with the Memphis Mafia?

By using the word 'fascination' I'm assuming you are referring to our choice of guest speakers? Over the past couple of years we have flown such people as Lamar Fike and Sonny West to the UK to take part in question and answer sessions during our conventions. We pick these people for two reasons: Firstly, there are many fans who simply enjoy meeting members of the inner circle to listen to inside stories about their years with Elvis. Secondly, there are those fans that feel they need answers. We are aware that there are people out there who have a 'bone to pick' with these guys and we respect that. Whichever category you fall into, we want to be the organization that gives you the opportunity. Whether you want to shake their hands or beat them up, we have given fans such a chance. They are tuff cookies who can handle themselves and besides, we feel it makes things all the more interesting. Our events are always well attended and everyone seems pretty content and happy to have met such people. It just seems to work well.

Why don't you want to be called a "fan"?

For goodness sake. What kind of a question is that? Could you personally launch a costly Donny Osmond magazine knowing that it needed a massive part of your dedication and heart & soul to become successful and to survive? The reason why the answer would be 'no' is because you're simply not a fan. No disrespect to Donny or his army of followers, but I'm sure you get what I'm trying to say here. Could you have built this wonderful website if you weren't a fan? Elvis is not just a business to me, he's a part of my life and I'm very much devoted to the man. Remember that I was virtually thinking about nothing else but Elvis for well over twenty years before I even dreamt of starting a magazine. Ask me a serious one...

Okay, we obviously didn't ask it the right way. We were thinking of our discussion in Memphis, when you said you dislike the "fanatic".

Well, you guys need to watch how you word things because being misquoted in such a way can do someone and their reputation some harm and leave them open to attack (laughs). I understand your question now and it really boils down to what you personally believe the word fanatic to actually perceive. If you describe someone as being a fanatic, it usually conjures up a picture of some fruitcake sitting in front of a home-made shrine in a jumpsuit & fake sideburns... and that's really not my style. I just prefer to be called an admirer (or possibly just a collector), rather than a worshipper or a fanatic. Just being referred to as an Elvis fan is quite good enough for me. It's not that I don't actually like the word fanatic, I'm just allergic to nuts... know what I mean?

Okay, let's go to our default questions, what, in general, is your favourite Elvis stuff? Name your favourite Elvis album (and why of course)?

Well, if it's not Promised Land, it's got to be That's The Way It Is. I just love those beautiful ballads like Mary in the Morning and I've Lost You. I'm far more of a 70's fan because I believe Elvis had just a little more edge to him and his voice was just awesome at that time. I like Promised Land because of Thinking About You, my favourite Elvis track of all time.

Name your favourite Elvis movie (and why of course)?

I've got to be a fool not to say the special edition of That's The Way It Is. I was lucky enough to be at the world premier in Memphis and I sat and cried though out the whole movie. I don't really need to say why do I? Change of Habit is a wonderful movie too. Remember that clip of him walking down the street when the little girl Amanda is sitting on the steps? That guy even walked cool eh?

Name your favourite Elvis magazine (no not that one you're thinking of right now)?

The Man and His Music is by far the best Elvis magazine in the world, and I've got a lot of respect for what Trevor has achieved with it. It's always referred to the Britain's 'other' premier Elvis magazine here in the office and I'm pleased to report that both editors get along very well. I speak to Trevor regularly on the phone and our magazines never seem to clash. It's a good working relationship. I'd also recommend Flaming Star in Norway.

Okay, and now about your own magazine ... what do you want to achieve with it?

We've pretty much achieved what we set out to do and that's become a reasonably well respected Elvis magazine. I think that as long as we keep putting out the kind of quality that we have been doing then hopefully, the subscriptions will continue to pour in like they have been for the last few years. I'd like to keep producing the exclusive interviews but after our scoops with Linda Thompson and Anita Wood, it's difficult
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