Words of high praise from a superstar!
Imagine interviewing a mega-star who's been on the world stage for 45 years. Imagine thinking to yourself, "This guy's been interviewed thousands of times. What could I possibly ask him that he hasn't been asked before? How do I make the interview interesting for him, so that he'll open up and have a good time?"
Believe me, it's an intimidating prospect to interview any celebrity who's had career longevity. They don't suffer fools gladly, nor do they appreciate their time being wasted with inane, irrelevant or mindless questions - and who can blame them? There are huge demands on their time, and they're not being paid to do interviews.
And then there's the fact that most of my guests have never heard of me. I'm not exactly a household name in the entertainment business. I'm only just starting to develop a reputation among industry executives as a well prepared, competent interviewer who does his homework and showcases his guests in their best light.
At this stage of my career, I consider every interview as a kind of audition - an opportunity to prove myself not only to you, the audience, but equally as important, to the guest and their management team and publicist. Obviously, if the guest comes away from the interview with a good impression of me, they may be inclined to refer their celebrity friends to me. And that, folks, is how a solid career as an interviewer is built - one guest at a time.
Today's interview with Graham Russell of the legendary pop music duo AIR SUPPLY, was a big deal for me and for our show. AIR SUPPLY is without question one of the most successful and beloved bands in pop music history, with a worldwide following. Songwriter/guitarist Graham Russell and lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock have been interviewed literally thousands of times in their 45 year career. They are inundated with requests for interviews, and on the rare occasion when such a request is granted, Graham Russell is the one who most often does the interview. Trust me, by now he's seen it all, and no one in that position is easy to impress.
I am a big AIR SUPPLY fan, so preparing for this interview was not difficult, and was an absolute joy. I gave serious thought to which questions might be novel and fresh, and might evoke some interesting responses. You'll notice that I didn't ask some of the most often-asked questions, like "How did you come up with the name AIR SUPPLY?", or "What's your favourite song?", or "Which venue is your favourite to play?" I asked him about some of the more poignant moments in his career, like meeting Princess Diana, and giving an impromptu acoustic performance in a hotel lobby in Cuba during a hurricane.
A highlight of this interview, for me, was when Graham recited one of his poems. That was a moment of pure magic. Unforgettable. I still have to pinch myself that it really happened. And I think my reaction on the screen says it all.
Near the end of the interview, Graham very graciously told me that I'd given him the best interview of his career. I was almost knocked off my chair! I really did not see that coming. And I am so touched by the degree to which he enjoyed himself during the interview.
Was it the first time that a guest has praised my interviewing skills? Honestly, no. If you're a faithful fan of my show, you'll know that more than a few guests have made very kind comments about their experience of being interviewed by me (who can forget the effusive high praise uttered by Martin McKenna?), and I am always incredibly grateful and humbled when that happens.
But when a superstar with a 45-year career tells me that I gave him the best interview of his life - well, that's something to celebrate. I hope you all enjoy my visit with Graham Russell as much as I did. And I hope you'll share the link to the `interview with your family and friends. After all, who doesn't love AIR SUPPLY?