Famed singer Engelbert Humperdinck is bringing his “Engelbert Calling” tour to Beverly Hills for a 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 20 concert at The Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd.
His last visit to the Saban was “wonderful,” Humperdinck reports. “People stood up when I walked out; and Pat Boone and Gene Simmons surprised me by being there. Who knows how I’ll be surprised this time?”
The concert will feature “the hits that made it possible for me to have a career,” Humperdinck said in a phone interview—like (Please) Release Me, After The Lovin’, Spanish Eyes, The Last Waltz, Quando, Quando, Quando and more. “I have to do all the songs that people want to hear,” Humperdinck says. “I just hope I’ve chosen all the right material.”
The audience will also get four selections from his 80th and latest album, Engelbert Calling. A sampling that he says “will be a nice first crack of the whip.” The two-disc, 23-track duets set has Humperdinck joining the likes of Smokey Robinson, Il Divo, Willie Nelson and many more.
With pre-recorded vocals and video screens, he’s able to recreate his duet with Elton John, Something About The Way You Look Tonight, as a concert highlight. “Elton may be there in voice only, but it works great,” says Humperdinck.
Humperdinck credits John with the Engelbert Calling concept and title. “He once said that in the early days, when he was a struggling writer in London, ‘I used to live in a little flat with my partner Bernie Taupin, writing songs and hoping and wishing that one day an Engelbert Humperdinck would call and take one of my songs.’ So we finally called, and Elton said yes immediately. That’s why we called the album Engelbert Calling, and it was a delight to work with him in the studio.”
The eclectic mix of song styles and partners is the result “of sitting down and finding appropriate songs they wrote or were associated with,” Humperdinck says. So there’s A Certain Smile with Johnny Mathis, which he released in 1958. He joins Neil Sedaka for the singer/songwriter’s The Hungry Years, Charles Aznavour on his song She, and Kenny Rogers for his hit, She Believes In Me.
Another studio partner was local Simmons, who joined Humperdinck for Spinning Wheel. Because of scheduling conflicts most of his guests “just sent their parts in and said ‘is this okay? If not let me know and I’ll do it again.’ Every one of these people was wonderful. Elton opened the honeycomb and then we got all the bees.”
The Beverly Hills stop is part of world tour that will take the 78-year-old through Canada, Europe, Australia and South Africa. But he’s thrilled to be promoting “a wonderful project that was three years in the making.”
While he “loves the traveling experience,” Humperdinck has slowed down some, he says. He’s gone from around 150 concerts a year to about 90. “I love to work; this is my life,” he says. While in town for his local engagement, his team, he says will meet to format his next three albums. “The preparation is always the hardest part.
“Performing is the best part of my life,” admits Humperdinck. “I’ve been doing it for48 years and I love the response I get. It recharges my batteries.”
He also doesn’t mind the “king of romance” nickname. “Elvis was the king of pop; so to be the king of anything is pretty darn good. “I’ve always sung in the romantic style and it’ s served me well,” says Humperdinck who’s earned four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe for “Entertainer of the Year”” (1988), 63 gold and 24 platinum records and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,
Release Me has the distinction in the UK of holding the number-one slot in the chart for six weeks in March and April 1967, and preventing The Beatles single, Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever, from reaching the top. The recording was also the highest selling single of 1967 in the UK, racking up one million sales, and eventually became one of the best-selling singles of all time with sales of 1.38 million copies.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and as a special treat, Humperdinck’s local son Bradley Dorsey and his band will open the show performing songs from their upcoming EP Changed. The two perform Cat Steven’s Father And Son on the new album and “may” recreate it at the concert.
His other son and manager, Scott Dorsey is flying in from Australia for the concert which is being filmed as part of a documentary on Humperdinck’s nearly five-decade career. The six-month project will also include never-before-seen photos and footage of his early career. “I see some of my old stuff on YouTube and I don’t remember doing it,” Humperdinck laughs.
In keeping with his romantic image, Humperdinck released his new jewelry line on Valentine’s’ Day. The collection features three main pieces —a pendant, lapel pin and necklaces—and Humperdinck was “very hands on” in the design.
Concert tickets range from $58- $125 and are available by calling 888-645-5006 or visiting www.sabantheatre.org. —Steve Simmons
Beverly Hills Courier
Posted: Monday, February 16, 2015 – 4:16 PM