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.
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EH Washington Post Interview
He’s been called Humpty Dumpty, but he once beat out the Beatles
By Laura Hambleton December 14 at 2:32 PM, Washington Post
He was born Arnold George Dorsey, in India, where his British father was working as an engineer. But he achieved worldwide fame with the unlikely name of Engelbert Humperdinck, and his Vegas-style love ballads and lamb-chop sideburns. Now 79 and still giving concerts, Humperdinck says he watches “The Voice” to see what young people sing and follows a daily regimen of exercise and crossword puzzles to keep mind and body healthy.
About his name, he says a manager suggested it in the 1960s, and he’s been called everything from Pumpernickel to Humpty Dumpty as a result. (It’s also the same as a 19th century German composer.) “Dean Martin never called me Engelbert. He always called me, ‘Hey, Humpty Bumpy, Lumpty Dumpy.’ ” Humperdinck likes to say he once bumped the Beatles from the top of the charts with his 1967 song “Release Me.”
He recently spoke to The Post from his home in Los Angeles, where he lives most of the year. Below is an edited transcript of his remarks.
You’re 79. How do you get ready for performances? Has that changed as you’ve aged?
Not really. If I’m playing at any distance [from home]. I like to get to the venue the day before so I can have a good rest, wake up fresh for the concert. I go over for a sound check about 3 o’clock. I stay there at the venue. I shower. I warm up in the shower. Steam helps the vocal cords.
I don’t do any scales. I still have a 3 1/2 -octave range, which is rather large.
How have you maintained that?
I’ve been lucky. As you get older, you get a very slow vibrato. My vibrato seems to have disappeared, rather than gotten slower.
How do you learn to improve?
My career is 48 years old. I am still learning on a daily basis how to improve my performance. What I do is to stay in tune with what’s happening in today’s world. The only way to do that is to watch the shows on television and see what the young people are doing today. Shows like “The Voice.”
It seems these people are given proper direction in order to win their way in the world. They do songs for today’s markets. I listen to those sort of things and see what’s happening. Sometimes I give my own judgments, sitting in my chair: “I think you should do this and do that.”
They don’t give body language or mic technique help [on most of those shows]. A lot of people put the mic right up to their mouths. That bothers me. I think people should see your face and read what you are trying to portray by looking at your face rather than just listening to a sound.
You are like an actor on a stage. You don’t see an actor on the stage with a mic in his face. You’re reading his facial expression. That’s what counts: body language, facial expression, eye contact, these sorts of things. I consider myself a thespian of song. When I am onstage, I act the song out. People can see what I am doing with my face and body language.
That is what has kept me in a long career. People understand what I am saying.
Is that your trademark?
It is something I’ve learned when you’ve seen people onstage of value like an Elvis, who had tremendous body language and facial expression. He was a genius.
What young artists do you listen to?
I don’t know that many young performers. Being in my category in my age group, I stay with people who have had long-lasting careers, the Elton Johns, Lady Gagas.
Bruno Mars is a very good performer. I think he’s great.
I think the Stones have had a long-lasting career. I love watching them. They bring magic to the stage. They have for so many years. They are still around and still at the top of their careers.
How do you describe yourself as a performer?
I have a sense of humor. I think that is important to a person’s life. I make fun of myself. You would, too, if you had a funny name like mine. People have called me all kinds of names — like Pumpernickel, which is bread. Humpty Dumpy. Dean Martin never called me by Engelbert. He always called me “Hey, Humpty Bumpy, Lumpty Dumpy.”
Dean was very instrumental in my career. When I first came to America, he took me to Las Vegas, to prestigious places in order to get my career a boost. He took me to all these hotels. The one I ended up playing was owned by Dean Martin. I played there nine years.
He not only gave me a boost by putting his name on the marquee — “Dean Martin presents” — we became good friends. I did his show and he did mine. It was wonderful. A great relationship.
Do you miss those years?
Those were the golden years. I did play with the greats, with the Ray Charleses and people like that. I knew Elvis very well. I didn’t get to sing with him, but I knew him very well. I enjoyed his mastery, his masterful performances onstage. I learned a lot from watching him.
One thing he did take from me is my sideburns. I told him to.
Do you miss that younger man in sideburns?
I still have my sideburns. I can’t do without those. People make fun of me, saying in my younger years, “Engelbert looks as though he is always on the phone.”
They were very good to me because it was image. I had my own hairstyle with sideburns. I had a funny name. All that put together made up Engelbert Humperdinck the singer.
Do you still have the same drive after all these years on stage?
I worked a lot more in the early days. I had more time to polish things. When I first started, I used to do 300 [shows] a year. It was too much. It took away my home life, took away from enjoying my life, when I was working. Show business is tough on performers. One hour onstage is like 16 hours of manual labor, physically and mentally. Now, I do 90 concerts a year.
I am not as fit as I used to be 40 years ago, [though] I can still do the things I did in my early 30s and 40s. I play tennis and golf. I touch the bag, now and again.
What is your typical day?
I go downstairs, I have my cup of coffee, I do two crosswords from an English newspaper my secretary downloads. I have my breakfast. I might go on a bike ride. Then I will go for 20 minutes on a treadmill to keep my body in shape.
To enjoy my life, I do have my Harley, which I ride in the hills of L.A. to feel the wind in my face. My other pastime is golf — and tennis. Apart from those, I love television. I love watching repeats. I love comedy — “Seinfeld,” “Two and a Half Men.”
You’ve been married about 50 years. Do you sing to your wife?
Oh, yeah, I try things on her. She does give comments. She has been my judge and jury over the years. I couldn’t have chosen a better lady to be by my side. It’s been 50 years.
You said you write poems.
I wrote one the other day. Do you want to hear it?
Yes, I do.
At times I dream I am on the ocean
No destination in view
Floating like a timber, torn away from its earthly roots
The water rocks me gently as I try to sleep
The pitter-patter of a ripple, softly touching my cheeks
Gazing at the sky above, my mind adrift in silent wonder
On a rolling veil of tears, or so it seems
As I toss and tumble through the waves, I ask God
to pave the way to where it is calm
and softening the haste and the harm
I pray that peace beholds the holy land we live
And love waits to cradle you safely to your heart and home.
I have a very sensitive and emotional side to me.
That’s it. That’s my life.
Jozi fans love Engelbert Humperdinck
After a short illness earlier this week, legendary crooner, Engelbert Humperdinck was on stage at the Teatro last night delighting an almost capacity crowd who enthusiastically welcomed this musical icon to Johannesburg. The audience burst into applause as they heard the first notes of many of his ever-popular hits such as (Please) Release Me, Spanish Eyes and The Last Waltz. Engelbert Humperdinck had the crowd singing along with great enthusiasm to a host of hits, many of which are sure to hold many special memories for his local fans.
To avoid disappointment, music lovers and fans who don’t yet have tickets to the Engelbert Humperdinck concert at the Teatro are encouraged to book now at Computicket for tonight’s concert or Friday’s concert which was added to the Johannesburg tour dates in lieu of Monday night’s postponed concert. Patrons who have valid tickets for Monday night’s concert are reminded that their tickets are automatically valid for this Friday’s concert. Presentation of tickets dated 23 November at Friday's concert will be accepted. Ticket holders with tickets for Monday’s postponed concert who are unable to make Friday’s concert may take their tickets to a Computicket service centre to exchange their tickets for tonight’s concert subject to availability in the same price category or they may request a full refund. All exchanges and refunds will be facilitated at a Computicket service centre. Unfortunately website ticket transactions cannot be reversed on line.
The 90 minute concert is more than a trip down memory lane. It’s a musical experience in the company of one of the world’s greatest singers. Don’t miss it! Book now for tonight or Friday night’s concerts at Computicket on 0861 915 8000, visit www.computicket.com or visit your nearest Computicket service centre. Details available at www.montecasino.co.za and www.showtime.co.za
Venue: Teatro at Montecasino
Dates and times:
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 at 8pm
Friday, 27 November 2015 at 8pm
R500, R550, R650, R750, R850
Debbi de Souza