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Tribute to the Erfurt tragedy

Monday 17 June 2002 @ 16:47 - GMT

Sir Elton John paid tribute Sunday to the victims of April's school shooting in this eastern German city during a concert whose proceeds will go to help care for people affected by the tragedy, in which 17 died. BigheartedElton

"We cannot play the music without thinking of why we are here tonight," John told a sell-out crowd of more than 7,500 people packed into a concert hall in Erfurt for the latest stop on the German leg of the British star's "Songs from the West Coast" tour.

Robert Steinhaeuser, a 19-year-old loner who had been forced out of the school the previous fall, shot dead two students, 13 teachers and a police officer in a 20-minute rampage April 26 at Erfurt's Johann Gutenberg Gymnasium before turning the gun on himself.

"We were thinking maybe we shouldn't come to Erfurt to play because it would be in bad taste," John, who said he was "so moved and so upset" when he heard of the tragedy, told the audience at the beginning of Sunday's 2 1/2-hour performance."This is our tribute to those people. We're very proud to be here and we hope we can do justice by playing our very best," he added to cheers.

John is donating the proceeds from ticket sales for the Erfurt concert to a local fund helping care for people affected by the shooting.