Engelbert Humperdinck still loves life on the road
BY DARRYL STERDAN, POSTMEDIA NETWORK
FIRST POSTED: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2016 08:00 AM CDT, Winnipeg Sun
Engelbert Humperdinck has heard them all.
“I’ve been called Pumpernickel, The Hump, The Dinck,” recalls the 79-year-old crooner with a laugh. “People have definitely made fun of the name. But I don’t mind. I’ve had a lot of fun being Engelbert Humperdinck.”
And even greater success. Since struggling British singer Arnold Dorsey improbably adopted the name of a 19th-century German composer back in 1966, he’s sold more than 150 million albums and topped charts with singles like Release Me (and Let Me Love Again), The Last Waltz and After the Lovin’. And he shows no signs of slowing down as he enters his 80s: Humperdinck has a brand-new country covers album called Runaway Country for sale on his website, a documentary movie in the works and a busy touring schedule that brings him to Toronto on April 15. But the L.A. resident still made time to chat about being a Gene Simmons lookalike, meeting a young Bruno Mars and forgetting the words to Release Me.
Congratulations on your upcoming 80th birthday.
Oh my God. Not yet, not yet. It’s not happened yet. But thanks — you know, it’s better than the alternative.
If somebody told you 50 years ago you’d be doing this at 80, how would you have reacted?
I don’t know. But I never thought I would be going strong at this particular age. But I’m very happy to be doing it, honestly. I love my job. I love what I’m doing. I’m travelling around the world. I still do 90 concerts a year.
Your voice has held up, unlike a lot of your contemporaries. What’s the secret?
Honestly, it’s just luck of the draw that it’s happened this way. Normally the vibrato slows up and the voice drops, but mine hasn’t. Mine has stayed. As a matter of fact, I think I’m singing better than ever. I still get up there. I still have a three-octave range.
You did the duets album Engelbert Calling in 2014 with some unexpected partners. Like Gene Simmons from KISS. How did that happen?
The reason we did that was because my daughter always said, ‘Dad, you have an amazing resemblance to Gene Simmons. You look alike.’ We even took a picture and cut it in half right down the middle of the nose, and there is a tremendous resemblance. So I thought it would be fun to do a song with him. And he was absolutely fantastic.
Are there other contemporary artists you’d like to work with? Do you keep up on today’s music?
I do listen to stuff that is happening in today’s market. I have done an Ed Sheeran song in my show. I would love to rub shoulders with someone like Bruno Mars. Here’s a funny story: When he was about four or five years old, he was the entertainment at a fan club party I had in Hawaii. He was dressed up in an Elvis suit and entertained everyone. I had pictures taken with him. So it would be nice to meet up with him again.
What should we expect from your live show?
Of course, I do my standards, the things that made it possible for me to be where I am. But I also do songs from Engelbert Calling. I do songs from Runaway Country. And then I do some songs that don’t belong to me — things that people would not expect me to sing. So I show the audience that I can sing other people’s material and give it my own stamp.
Do you ever get up there and completely forget the words to Release Me?
Sometimes. So I just make it up as I go along. Everybody seems to enjoy it.
Engelbert Humperdinck Las Vegas Sun Interview
Engelbert Humperdinck: ‘I’m still bloody nervous when I walk onstage’
By Robin Leach, Las Vegas Sun
Tue, Mar 15, 2016 (2 a.m.)
Arnold George Dorsey started out as a sax player, but he won a pub contest by singing — and closed his act with a dead-on impression of entertainment legend and Las Vegas resident Jerry Lewis.
His name immediately became Gerry Dorsey. It was to be short-lived as National Service called for military duty, followed by a serious battle with tuberculosis that KO’d his return to show business for six months.
He was part of the Gordon Mills management stable of pop stars, including non-rival Tom Jones and the eccentric Gilbert O’Sullivan. Gordon suggested the unusual and unique Engelbert Humperdinck moniker of the “Hansel & Gretel” Austrian composer. Notice all names of historical characters!
The still-handsome British singer, 79, is celebrating a stunning, nearly 50-year musical career with million-selling hits “Release Me,” “Spanish Eyes,” “The Last Waltz” and “After the Lovin.’ ”
He’s one of a few singers who has achieved two 1 million-selling hits in the same chart year. All told, he’s sold nearly 200 million records worldwide, with “Release Me” selling at one point more than 100,000 copies a day.
Engelbert returns to Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Symphony Park on Saturday, the day after Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” benefit production.
I chatted with him at length at his Beverly Hills, Calif., home, once owned by legendary actress Jayne Mansfield, before I left for Cabo San Lucas.
So you’re coming back to Las Vegas.
Yes, I am. I’m coming back, my third time at the Smith Center. I love that building. The acoustics are probably the best over there because they made it so that the audience and the artists have great sound. I think it’s great.
It may seem a funny question, but I’m serious. From a singer’s viewpoint, what does music add to romance? What does romance add to music?
I think music adds to romance because it creates the emotions. It creates feelings, which create romance. That’s what lyrics and good music are all about. That’s what I’ve been involved with all my life, and that’s one of the reasons why they deemed me “The King of Romance,” which was not my naming, but the press called me that.
It’s all to do with what music does to people. Music does stimulate them and lets them understand their emotions and creates different feelings you trust — like emotions of sadness and happiness.
You know you dance to music; therefore, it creates that emotion. You fall in love through music, you dance and get closeness. Everything happens through music.
Has that manifested itself in your performances? Have you ever seen anybody propose during a performance of yours? Have you ever seen anybody get down on one knee?
Yes. As recently as last year in one of my shows, somebody proposed during my show. People tend to do things with my music. For instance, “After the Lovin’ ” has been responsible for a lot of weddings and engagements.
Music is responsible for a lot of happenings as far as romance. It makes me feel good because it happens to be my music that’s caused it. I feel great about that.
Do you enjoy being “inside the box” of romance?
Yes, I do. I think it was a well-chosen path to take. When I first started, Robin, in the business, I was a rock-and-roll singer. I had to make a choice in the type of music I wanted to sing, and the choice was romantic music.
I was in a stable at the time with Gilbert O’Sullivan and Tom Jones, and we all had choices to make. Tom went the rock-and-roll way, I went the romantic way, and Gilbert had this funky type of method of singing. We made up that stable, and I guess that’s what made us successful.
What was that very first love song that persuaded you to stay in that area?
The first one, of course, was “Release Me,” and, ironically, it’s not even a love song because it’s very negative: “Please release me, let me go.” But it seemed to cause a lot of people to get together for some reason. It had a certain effect on people’s romantic ways.
That goes back to the emotional question that I asked about what music triggers.
I can’t believe it because it has a negative way of saying, “Let me go. I found somebody new.” It was so popular, it stopped The Beatles from having their 30th No. 1 in the Guinness Book of Records.
It was the largest number of records I’ve ever sold in my life. It was something like 80,000 a day, and it reached actually 127,000 records a day, which was completely unheard of in the industry.
That must have amazed you.
Yes, because I used to call every day and ask how many did we do? How many did we do today? You could do that in that era, but today you can’t.
How many miles are you still trekking a year?
Until about five years ago, I was doing about 140 concerts a year, and now I’m down to about 80 or 90. I think that’s about it. This time I’m doing a lot of work around the world.
I rather like it actually because I get to spend time in places that I’ve gone in and out very quickly. I’ve gotten to see the countries and go around it and experience their culture and things a little bit more.
Do you still love it?
I do love it. I swear to God until this day I love what I do. Walking onstage is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life, and it still is until this very day. But I’m still bloody nervous when I walk onstage.
I swear! Before I walk onstage, my hands are cold, my feet are cold, and I’m stomping my feet backstage. It’s just so unusual to see somebody who’s been in the business 49 years feel nervous before I walk onstage. My warm-up back stage, nobody can hear it. I keep the microphone away from me because it’s live.
I’m really belting out with the overture, and I’m singing loud notes with it to warm up my vocal chords. I’m really singing loud to make sure I can hit all the notes when I walk onstage. It’s an unusual feeling. What I say to the people is my legs shake so badly I might have to lay down and do the show, and I mean it.
Fifty years on, how does it feel to still be a heartthrob? Does that amaze you?
Yes, it does. I mean have you read some of the write-ups I’ve been in recently? Isn’t it something?
I understand it, but I guess it’s still extraordinary just by the numbers. I remember the last time you were here at the Smith Center, it was dazzling, and I remember the folks rushing the stage like you were Harry Styles from One Direction!
Yeah, it was very good, thank you; thank you. I’m very pleased the way things are going. I still try to keep on top of the business by keeping fresh and always on top changing my show here and there and everywhere. I still keep the standards that people come to hear.
For instance, I notice when I watch major acts like Paul McCartney, when he goes out and tries new songs, it doesn’t go down as big as when he starts singing all the songs that they did in the past.
I think you still have to maintain and let the people hear what made it possible for you to be there in the first place, so I keep that as my main target for my audience.
So what does Engelbert Humperdinck put on the record player at home? Not Engelbert Humperdinck?
I sometimes put it on when I’m looking for material and I think, “What can I do to change my show a little bit?” So I listen to my music. Of course it takes a tremendous amount of listening.
I keep saying I could sing that song better today, and you’re criticizing yourself as you go along, and yet in that era it was great because it sold millions of records.
Yes, but please don’t ever do a hip-hop version of “Release Me.”
No, no, I don’t think I could change that. It’s so stamped in its style, I don’t think I could ever try to make an updated version of it, no. … If it’s not broken, don’t change it.
I agree. Do you have a favorite song out of all of them, or a favorite three?
I think the three are “Release Me,” After the Lovin,’ ” and I have to say I do love “Am I That Easy to Forget?” The ones that really got me around the world are songs like “The Last Waltz” that was played in ever dance hall around the world. I think that established me in a major way around the world, and every karaoke machine in the world still carries that song.
It’s been a remarkable journey since I knew you back in the 1960s, then when we filmed you for “Entertainment Tonight” and “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.”
It has indeed, and I hope it never ends. I’ve got a couple of albums I’ve got to tell you about. The duet album, of course, took two years to bring out, but I got to work with some legendary people, which was just wonderful. Actually, my assistant bumped into Johnny Mathis the other day, and Johnny says, “How is he doing? We should get together sometime.”
Johnny Mathis has been one of my favorite, favorite voices in my life. To sing a duet with him was like a dream come true for me. It would be like singing a duet with Nat King Cole. Of course being on the same album with Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers … and Gene Simmons was a delight in the studio, I want to tell you that.
And the newest album?
“Runaway Country.” Yeah, I did that and did a song called “Runaway” on it to keep it fresh. They’re all country songs, and they’re all great performances. There’s a great song in there called “Love Look What You’ve Done to Me.” It’s a wonderful song, which I perform in the show, and it gets major reaction from the audience.
Where are you before you come to Las Vegas, and where do you go afterward?
I’m in Sacramento just prior to Las Vegas, and afterward we go to Atlantic City, Massachusetts, Toronto. … I’m still roaming.
The summer lies ahead. What else do you have on your plate?
I started a documentary a couple of years ago. It’s not quite finished yet, but, when that comes out, I will let you know. It’s got some footage on it that’s never been seen before, so it will be quite unusual when it’s finished. It’s getting close to the end of it now.
But I’ll go on singing and touring. I can’t and won’t stop!
Engelbert Humperdinck performs Saturday night at 7:30 in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Symphony Park.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
A SINGER BY ANY OTHER NAME
Arnold George Dorsey is more generally known by his internationally-recognized moniker: Engelbert Humperdinck. But, to paraphrase Shakespeare, a singer by any other name would sing as sweet.
Humperdinck, who will be performing in Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center on March 19th, was not Dorsey’s first name change. His initial name change was to his first name. The Leicester, England lad had taken up playing the saxophone and was challenged by friends to put his instrument aside and sing in a pub contest. He ended up doing such a successful impression of another recent Smith Center performer – Jerry Lewis – that he was immediately labeled as Gerry Dorsey.
Now, that’s fine as names go, but while touring in England, Dorsey had to contend with a serious bout of tuberculosis and was off the stage for six months. When he recovered, it was time for a new image to showcase his health and vitality, so it was time for the next (and final) name change. His manager suggested Engelbert Humperdinck, from the 19th century Austrian composer who wrote "Hansel & Gretel." Not a common name, but one that would grow in popularity as the singer rose to global fame.
That fame endures as Humperdinck’s hits endure, including “(Please) Release Me,” “After The Lovin',” “Spanish Eyes,” “The Last Waltz,” “Am I That Easy To Forget,” “There Goes My Everything,” “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize,” “Winter World Of Love,” “This Moment In Time,” “Can't Take My Eyes Off You” and “Quando, Quando, Quando.”
It’s a funny thing about names. Famous singers are sometimes known by their first names - Madonna, Dion, Cher - but this performer proves that talent is the key to success, whether the name is Arnold George Dorsey, Gerry Dorsey, or Engelbert Humperdink.
Engelbert Humperdinck performs March 19th in Reynolds Hall. Click here to purchase tickets or call 702.749.2000.
REVIEW: ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK AT THE RIVER ROCK SHOW THEATRE
It’s hard to believe someone has endured a career of almost 50 years with the made up name Engelbert Humperdinck, but it’s true. Such a legacy only comes with good reason, of course. At 79, the English crooner delivered a knockout two hour set at Richmond’s famed River Rock Show Theatre, delivering a set featuring old favourites, classic covers, and a hell of a lot of entertainment wrapped up in comedic morsels.
What came as the biggest surprise of the evening was how much of a jokester Humperdinck is, turning out one-liners in between almost every song. Even more, pretty much everyone and everything was fair game in his line of target, finding fodder anywhere from The Kardashians (“These people have got hidden talent. That’s why I watch the show, I’m trying to find it”) to Tom Jones (“So much gyrating… why?”), to himself (“It’s been 21 years since alcohol has passed these lips. But I also lie.”)
Classic Humperdinck cuts like “The Last Waltz” and the #1 smash “After The Lovin'” satisfied the swoons of the adoring audience, who sang along to every word and tried to rush the stage vying for his attention. During the latter, a vintage video appeared on the screens portraying a fresh-faced Humperdinck belting out the song on grainy ’70s-era television footage. Sitting in the crowd and darting your eyes back and forth between the younger Humperdinck on screen and the live version, it painted the perfect picture of just what a lengthy, impressive career this man has maintained.
“No show would be complete without this one,” he said while leading into “Am I That Easy To Forget”. But really, the man could have played any old song, and his adoring fans would have gone wild. He may be up on today’s pop culture references, but Humperdinck is very much a portal to a different time. To witness his performance is to forget about the sad state of affairs of today’s music industry and be taken back to a day when performers donned silk shirts, wiped their brows with red handkerchiefs, and blew their fans kisses.
“I’m a bit nervous up here,” he told the crowd, poking fun at himself when saying “I’ve been in this business three years now.” The legendary star then went on to tell the crowd how he had received advice from the greats personally, like when Elvis told him to spread his legs apart on stage, and later connected with the crowd by joking about Vancouver weather. “You have four seasons– rain, rain, rain, and under construction.” The personalized charm and touch paid off. Humperdinck could have stood still and sang for an hour without any of the jokes or character, but those moments are what made the experience complete and, likely, has contributed to securing Humperdinck’s place as a career artist.
Many of Humperdinck’s songs still elicit a genuinely timeless feel while holding up as powerful love songs of today, particularly notable in that the Engelbert Humperdinck of 2016 still maintains almost as much power as that of his heyday. The upbeat numbers like “A Man Without Love” stirred up sing-alongs with the crowd with catchy verses, where the ballads had people swaying in their seats, likely acting as a throwback to early romantic memories. He roamed the stage like a young pop prince, and then joked about needing a drink.
The real charm of the show came in the off the cuff moments, like when a tech came to switch out Humperdinck’s vocal monitor, to which he jokingly warned “Don’t touch my ass!”
The show benefitted immensely by Humperdinck’s stellar ten-piece band, featuring two backup singers as well as a brass section.
A certain amount of sentimentality and nostalgia fuelled Humperdinck’s performance, as would be expected. His stories and video montages included a fun, campy televised duet with Dean Martin, and a montage that mentioned he’s sold over 150 million albums to date.
Really, there was something for everyone here. A Calypso-laden “Quando Quando Quando” featured some bad-ass saxophone solos and some infectious bongos. A cover of Elton John’s “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” featured John’s pre-recorded vocal but ended up more touching than cheesy, which sounds almost unimaginable. He also knocked out a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with immense strength, and later took on a heart-melting rendition of “The Power of Love” featuring Johan Frank on Spanish guitar. “How I Love You” pulled at the heartstrings with its touching ode to lovelorn memories.
Even for those in the house not necessarily familiar with Humperdinck’s catalogue had a lot to connect with, as much of the show was filled with familiar pop canon favourites, as Engelbert seems to be a man in love with covers. On a country-tinged version of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”, he donned a cowboy hat and joined in for a line dance with his backup singers. This is a man who, after five decades in show business, still doesn’t take himself too seriously, and his fun-loving spirit shines on stage for his fans to eat up.
During “Release Me”, he changed a lyric to “I can’t believe this song is 49 years old,” showing a clear self-awareness and ability to not be phased by his age, and a willingness to embrace his legacy as a performer. Afterward, an excited fan bounced up in her seat, to which Humperdinck asked her “Have you got a pair of panties in your hand? That’s dangerous if you’ve just taken them off.”
When the crowd goes wild for an encore, Humperdinck characteristically joked “I was coming back anyway,” before performing a cover of Kris Kristofferson’s “For The Good Times,” a fitting goodbye that also showcased Humperdinck in a red robe, miming a boxing opponent, and tossing a dozen or so red handkerchiefs to his adoring fans. Give the people what you want, and it will pay off, surely. Six decades in, Humeprdinck appears to be just getting started.
Engelbert Humperdinck brings the romance
By Steve Smith, LA Daily News, POSTED: 02/19/16, 10:55 AM PST
For nearly a half-century, Gerry Dorsey has been making the ladies swoon.
This tradition continued at his Valentine’s Day show before nearly 2,000 fans, including actor-singer James Darren, at the landmark Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.
Never heard of Gerry Dorsey?
How about Engelbert Humperdinck?
That’s the name in 1965 that Gordon Mills, who also managed Tom Jones at the time, suggest Gerry use professionally. A short time later, as Engelbert Humperdinck, Mills was able to get him a record deal with Decca, and he has used that name ever since.
At age 79, Engelbert still brings it. At a time when even big name stars have been known to employ lip-syncing, Engelbert sang live and he did it for a full hour and 40 minutes.
It was a fun, often light-hearted, show as Eng (as he is also known) easily moved about the stage, often dancing and posing while telling stories filled with humor. In between, he delivered such hits as “A Man Without Love” and “Am I That Easy to Forget,” both from 1968, and his 1976 biggie, “After The Lovin’,” which returned him to Billboard’s Top 10 after nearly a decade.
During those years, he continued to score major hits on the adult contemporary easy listening Top 10; in fact, he had a dozen of them.
In 1967, the man with more than 150 million records sold worldwide scored a coup of sorts: He had not one, but two, No. 1 smashes that each sold more than a million copies that year. That would be his debut 45, “Release Me” (which kept The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” at No. 2) and “The Last Waltz.”
Of course, he treated fans to both near the end of the evening, utilizing a voice that remains as strong and on-pitch as ever and with just the right amount of vibrato — a remarkable feat for a man his age.
Other highlights include his take on Boz Scaggs’ “Look What You’ve Done to Me” and giving Bruce Springsteen’s smoldering ballad “I’m on Fire” a country flair as he donned a cowboy hat while he and his backup singing gals line danced and two-stepped.
He told of meeting Elvis in Las Vegas and the advice The King gave Mr. Romance: “When you sing, keep your legs wide apart.”
Eng wisely chose to ignore this.
As he’s done for decades, he handed out oodles of his trademark red scarves to his female fans. He joked that his lifelong pal, fellow sex symbol Sir Tom Jones (he of the ultra-tight pants) also loves them. So much so that he always stuffs about 30 scarves down his crotch to make him appear, well, you know.
Backed by a seven-piece outfit, plus those female backup singers, he ended his set with a medley of some of hits from his salad days, (the late ‘60s) including “This Moment in Time,” “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize” and “There Goes My Everything.”
Alas, it would have been fun to hear his tongue-in-cheek stand alone single from the hit 1996 animated feature, “Beavis and Butt-head Do America” called “Lesbian Seagull,” but not surprisingly, it was not to be.
The man who was born in Madras, India, and grew up in Leicester, England, but who embraced our country music in the earliest days of his career, ended the evening with a country classic, Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times,” which, in 1970, became country legend Ray Price’s signature song.
Afterward, a good portion of the crown made a bee-line to the restrooms, as usual. It’s interesting: younger guys tend to do their business in silence, while the older fellas can be quite chatty.
So, I’m standing at the stall when an older gentleman on my left says, “Man, he still has it!”
The Baby Boomer on my right added, “Does he ever! I want whatever he’s using that keeps him that young and energetic.”
To which all of us, including a couple guys in line behind us, said in unison: “We all do!”
PECHANGA: Engelbert Humperdinck is a thespian of song
Engelbert Humperdinck brings his catalog to Pechanga Resort and Casino on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12 and 13.
BY JIM DAIL / CONTRIBUTING WRITER, The Press Enterprise
Published: Feb. 10, 2016 1:16 p.m.
At the age of 79, Engelbert Humperdinck continues to be a top-drawing performer, and there’s more to his success than just singing.
“Entertaining has been an evolving skill,” he wrote in an email interview. “It started in the working man’s clubs in England. If you stood still for too long, you'd get beer thrown at you on a rowdy night, no matter how good your singing chops were or how smartly you were dressed.”
The crowds wanted their money’s worth.
“Even when I fell on my posterior, I'd slide forward on my knees like it was part of the act,” he said. “As time went by, I couldn't help but be a sort of thespian of song. The lyrics were so strong that they just brought the emotion and movement to the delivery.”
His performing prowess has made him a big name around the world, with more than 150 million records sold. Humperdinck heads to Pechanga Resort and Casino for a pair of shows Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13.
For Humperdinck, the song still a vital cog and his new record, “Runaway Country,” features such classics as “Behind Closed Doors,” “I Can See Clearly,” “Desperado” and “We’ve Got Tonight.”
“Runaway Country takes those songs that hit so many of our lives’ sound tracks and adds a little of the roots of my early music,” he said. “‘Release Me,’ ‘There Goes My Everything,’ many of the hits were rich in Southern influence. It just seemed natural to hop back on that track all these miles down the road.”
Born Arnold George Dorsey, he learned saxophone when he was 11, leaving it behind to sing in a contest at a pub in England. After contracting tuberculosis, he decided to change his image as a master impressionist and take the name of Engelbert Humperdinck from the 19th-century operatic composer. Among the artists who opened for him include The Carpenters and Jimi Hendrix.
“I had several influences, but I listened to Nat King Cole and those golden, rounded tones,” he said. “I soaked up the best of the best. My vocal landscape was wide open when I first started. I just worked hard at being the best version of myself but originally stole nuggets from those far away vocal sounds that floated in over the airwaves.
And there were a number of good songwriters and songs from which to choose.
“In the early days, it was easy to find a killer song because the writing teams were so spot on with how they wrote for an artist,” he said.
“Sometimes, it wasn't finding a song but holding on to it that proved to be tricky.”With an ability to sing just about anything, Humperdinck said his shows include a wide collection of styles.
“People can expect a fresh mix of what got me to where I am today with some unexpected surprises along the way,” he said. “New material still gives me a good mix of nervous butterflies and eager excitement.”
Review of The Villages Show
Engelbert Humperdinck at 79 shows he’s still got what the ladies love
Villagers Elaine Gorby and Mary Jane Puleo were tripping through time Wednesday night during the Engelbert Humperdinck concert at The Sharon.
The calendar may read 2016, but for the longtime “Humper” fans it’s 1967 all over again. That’s the year “Release Me” hit No. 1 on the charts and made a guy previously known as Gerry Dorsey a star.
The once, dark, dashing, romantic singer with the long black sideburns, bedroom eyes and funny name is 79. The hair is grayer and the body a bit plumper. But the voice, charisma and sex appeal still turn up the heat and turn back the clock for his loyal fans.
All through the 75-minute concert, you could hear female screams of delight, along with hooting, whistling and hollering. Just like the old days.
“His voice is just fabulous and he looks great; close your eyes and you feel like you’re back in 1967,” Puleo said. Midway through the concert, she raced to the front of the stage to present Engelbert with roses. The singer smiled and gave her a kiss. “Awesome,” she said.
Gorby once shared another intimate public moment with Engelbert back in 1985. He called her up to a Las Vegas stage and sang a love song to her. She carried an 8 by 10 picture of that moment to The Sharon.
“I was an Engelbert groupie and I still think he is the sexiest voice alive,” Gorby said. “With Engelbert, it’s not about age; it’s about his talent, personality and sex appeal. He’s still got it.”
Engelbert takes all this in stride. He likes to poke fun at himself and just about everything else. Once, he went to the front of the stage to pick up a note, and had a hard time getting back up.
“I’m not as young as I used to be,” he said. “My (back) hurts.” Then he talked about Florida. “I like the four seasons in Florida: you’ve got summer, summer, summer and ‘under construction.’”
Engelbert even goofed on his one-time singing rival, Tom Jones. “He’s old, he doesn’t look good,” Engelbert said and then started shaking his hips as he sang Jones’ hit, “It’s Not Unusual.” Then he imitated his close, late friend Dean Martin, who once gave him this advice: “never go on stage sober.”
There were lots of laughs but Engelbert is serious about his music. He has sold over 150 million records during his career and made nearly 80 albums. That makes him one of the most successful recording artists of all time.
He opened the show with a couple of his soft, romantic standards: “Another Time, Another Place” and “Am I That Easy to Forget,” soon followed by “After the Lovin’.”
Engelbert was accompanied by a young, tight seven-piece band, and a two, dynamic female backup singers. All of them gave a jolt of energy to the music and the stage show.
Engelbert showed some bounce in his steps during choreography on “Quando, Quando, Quando.” He donned a black cowboy hat and turned Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” into kind of a country-flavored boot-scootin’ boogie. He then sang a recorded duet with Elton John on “Something About the Way You Look Tonight.” It’s from the duet album, “Engelbert Calling.”
At one point, Engelbert pulled out his cellphone to take selfie with a fan. An elderly woman was helped to the side of the stage but couldn’t get on the stage. So Engelbert came over and lay down on his back so he could get his face next to the woman. The crowd gave that act an ovation.
Engelbert closed with a medley of some of his biggest hits: “The Last Waltz,” “This Moment in Time,” “There Goes My Everything” and “Spanish Eyes.”
That set the stage for the final song: “Release Me.”
“Forty-nine years ago on this date in January, the song ‘Release Me’ came out,” Engelbert said. “It’s a big day for me. I’m very lucky. Without that song, I wouldn’t be here tonight.”
After a long, standing ovation, Engelbert sang an encore, covering the old Ray Price weeper, “For the Good Times.”
But he still wasn’t finished. Engelbert put on a long, red bathrobe and pulled out red handkerchiefs from his pockets and tossed them to a crowd that howled with delight.
“He always had the voice and he always sang good songs,” Villager Tony Lanzone said. “We haven’t seen him in 30 years but he set a standard,” added his wife, Marilyn.
Engelbert Humperdinck lived up to that standard Wednesday at The Sharon.
JANUARY 14, 2016 BY TONY VIOLANTI , Villages-News.Com
Radio Interview with Boomer Times
Anita Finley interviews Engelbert for Boomer Times:
Humperdinck not quite ready for 'The Last Waltz'
By Christine Cole, Orlando Sentinel, January 10, 2016
MOUNT DORA — "(Please) Release Me" was a monster hit for Engelbert Humperdinck in 1967 — so big that it held on to the No. 1 slot for 56 weeks, denying The Beatles their 13th straight chance at the top slot with "Penny Lane" and making the English singer a star.
The 79-year-old performer, who has cut down his tours from 300 to 90 per year, will appear Tuesday at the Mount Dora Community Building and Wednesday at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center in The Villages. Both concerts begin at 7 p.m.
"Performing is not a job for me, it's a way of life," Humperdinck said. "It's something I love to do."
Born Arnold George Dorsey in Madras, India, the easy-going Humperdinck, known for his lavish stage productions, has sold 150 million records including hits "The Last Waltz," "After the Lovin' " and "Quando, Quando, Quando."
Don't call him a crooner, though. He points to his 3 1/2 octave range and said he sees himself as a stylized performer and a contemporary singer. He is one of the few singers of his generation — think Tony Bennett — to cross over and find new fans in successive generations.
He was one of the first singers to wear a leather jumpsuit and to grow lamb-chop sideburns and gets the credit for passing both on to one of his heroes, Elvis Presley.
"He was amazing," Humperdinck said. "As an artist, I've never seen anyone better. I loved his humility and his humor, which was often self-deprecating. I took a leaf from his book."
He rides a Harley, plays golf and tennis in Southern California, does two crossword puzzles each morning and sometimes writes poems.
"Poetry is a release valve for me," he said. "The crosswords are just to turn over my mind, to keep it active."
He also loves to watch TV, citing "Two and a Half Men" and YouTube, where he watches his past performances, looking for ideas for his next shows.
His fans, known as Humperdinckers, have always been drawn to his good looks, even though he has had to color his hair since it went gray when he was in his 20s.
His latest album is "Runaway Country." "Engelbert Calling," from 2014, features "duets" with singers such as Elton John and Willie Nelson.
To celebrate his 80th birthday, Humperdinck will release a documentary about his life in May.
He scoffs at singers who just stand there and sing.
"They are not trying to experience what they are trying to say," he said. "When I'm on stage, I use my face and my body. I don't let the audience think of anybody but me."
Tickets for the Mount Dora performance are $85 to $300 and can be purchased by calling 407-603-9215 or at mountdoralive.com.
Tickets for The Villages performance are $20 to $140 and are available at thesharon.com, at The Villages box offices or by calling 352-750-5411.
Engelbert Humperdinck recalls lessons learned from Dean Martin, Elvis
JANUARY 10, 2016 BY TONY VIOLANTI, Villages-News.Com, January 10, 2016
It was 1967, the year of “The Summer of Love.” Hippies went to San Francisco wearing flowers in their hair. The Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper.” Jimi Hendrix soared with his breakthrough album, “Are You Experienced.”
And a well-traveled 28-year old romantic singer called Gerry Dorsey was looking for a hit and gimmick after a decade of struggle.
It all happened when his manager gave him the name Engelbert Humperdinck — after the Austrian composer of “Hansel & Gretel” — and he cut a single called “Release Me.”
The tender, sad ballad raced up the charts and kept the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane” single out of the No. 1 spot in England. Before long, Engelbert was touring with Hendrix. “That was a lot of fun” he said. “Jimi was wonderful.”
So was “Release Me.”
“It was a magical song for me that just kept selling and selling,” the man known as Engelbert said in a telephone interview this week. He performs Wednesday at 7 p.m. in The Sharon. He also plays on Tuesday night at 7 in the Mount Dora Community Theater. For information go to www.MountDoralive.com
“I had no idea ‘Release Me’ would be a hit,” Engelbert said. “I was totally surprised and grateful that it became the No. 1 record in the world.”
To see him perform it:
The single was selling over 100,000 copies a day at one point. All this was heady stuff for a scuffling pop singer from Leicester, England.
“I was starving,” Engelbert said. “I started singing at 17 and I didn’t make any money until I was 28. It was a struggle but I never gave up.”
Those hard years helped mold a performer who would sell over 150 million records. During the 1970s, Engelbert became a worldwide smash as a romantic balladeer. He had his own television show, played the biggest clubs in Vegas and throughout the world.
The hits included: “The Last Waltz,” “After the Lovin’” “A Man Without Love,” “Am I That Easy to Forget” and “There Goes My Everything.”
And he never forgot his long road to success.
“The struggle gave me confidence and an understanding of the business,” Engelbert said. “There are a lot of so-called one-hit wonders, who have a big hit and then disappear. I learned a lot through my experience that you have to keep working hard, change with the times and grow as a performer.
“You never know how long a career will last. It depends on your tenacity and knowing what an audience wants and giving it to them.”
One singer who befriended him and helped teach those lessons was Dean Martin.
“He was a tremendous actor and stage performer,” Engelbert said. “Dean would never rehearse. He would show up and use cue cards, but he was always perfect. No one else could do that, the way Dean did it. He was extremely nice to me.”
A big lesson from Martin was to act out a song.
“I love performing and I consider myself an actor on stage,” Engelbert said. “I don’t just sing lyrics. I use stage techniques and movements with the song.”
He also learned from another friend – Elvis.
“I consider Elvis the greatest performer I’ve ever seen in my life,” Engelbert said. “He was such a genuine person and nice guy. He had great humility and charisma. I learned a lot of from him and I stole from him. You know what they say, if you’re going to steal from a performer, steal from the best. Elvis was the best.”
Today, one of the singers Engelbert admires is Lady Gaga.
“She’s one of the most powerful performers out there and she has a great voice,” he said. “I love the way she acts out her songs on stage. She sounds great singing with Tony Bennett. Tony picked a good singing partner.”
Engelbert doesn’t just live in the past. He recently released an album, “Runaway Country.” About a year ago he released a duets album “Engelbert Calling.” It featured him with such artists as Elton John, Willie Nelson, Johnny Mathis, Cliff Richard Neil Sedaka, Lulu, and Gene Simmons of KISS.
Engelbert has been married for nearly 50 years to Patricia and they have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. His son, Scott Dorsey, acts as Engelbert’s manager.
At 79, he still looks forward to singing and the future.
“You know how it is with age, you can’t do anything about it,” he said.
And the same could be said for the name.
“He’s been called everything from Pumpernickel to Humpty Dumpty,” according to the Washington Post. “Dean Martin never called me Engelbert. He always called me, ‘Hey, Humpty Bumpy, Lumpty Dumpy.’”
Whatever you call him, Mr. Dorsey or Mr. Humperdinck is having a grand time on stage.
“I’m happy and I’m going to keep singing,” he said.