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Engelbert Humperdinck on 50th anniversary tour, wife's Alzheimer's, refusing plastic surgery

September 19, 2017

Randy Cordova, The Republic | azcentral.comPublished 6:00 a.m. MT Sept. 19, 2017 | Updated 6:47 a.m. MT Sept. 19, 2017


Crooner Engelbert Humperdinck celebrates the 50th anniversary of his first hit record in 2017. In the past five decades, he’s traveled the world, performing love songs for millions of people. But, he admits, sometimes on stage his emotions get the better of him. 


“There are many songs in my life that have had an emotional impact on my heart,” says the 81-year-old vocalist, calling from his home in Los Angeles. “Sometimes they hit me when I’m singing on stage. You know, no one really knows a person’s personal problems. If something is going on in your life, you have to overcome that on stage. But sometimes you can’t. Sometimes a lyric hits home and there’s nothing you can do about it.” 


He's not exaggerating. In recent years, audiences noticed he occasionally would choke up on stage. At first, he said nothing about it. Then he announced this year that Patricia, his wife of 53 years, has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past decade.


“It does strike home for me several times during my show,” he says. “People didn’t know before, but I guess they do now. Now they may get an inkling of what is going on with my heart.” 

Humperdinck and his wife used to split their time between Los Angeles and a home in Leicester, England, where he grew up. These days, however, the couple sticks to California, and he gets back to England about two or three times a year. 

“She’s doing OK,” he says. “She still knows me, thank God. She recognizes me and she smiles and she says hello sometimes. Her speech is not very good at this moment, but with treatment and hopefully the discovery of a cure in the near future, I hope and pray that all is well.” 

Humperdinck usually keeps his private life out of the spotlight, but chose to go public for one reason.

"It's a terrible disease," he says. "It's very rife at this point, and we have to do something about it. I thought it was important to let people know."   

Bittersweet anniversary

The news adds a bittersweet tinge to a celebratory time in the British singer’s life. He’s on a world tour to mark the 50 years since his success with "Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)."  Issued in early 1967, the ballad became an international smash hit. In England, it kept the Beatles' “Penny Lane” out of the No. 1 spot; in the States, it went to No. 4.  


It was pretty impressive, particularly for an old-fashioned country tune in the hazy days of the late '60s.


“I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by,” says Humperdinck, who was born with the much less cumbersome moniker of Arnold Dorsey. “Without that song, I wouldn’t be talking to you now. It’s the one that put me on the map. It stopped the almighty Beatles from getting to No. 1. For this unknown to do that? That was something.”


It wasn’t merely a hit record. It launched an amazingly durable international career for Humperdinck. He became a Las Vegas institution. Back when adult contemporary radio was still called easy listening, he scored hits through the ‘70s with songs like “After the Lovin’,” “Another Time, Another Place,” "A Man Without Love" and “The Last Waltz,” all marked by his distinctive vocal style.


That voice — deep, masculine and effortlessly warm — sounds remarkably unchanged. 

“It’s as strong today as it was yesterday,” Humperdinck confirms. “I don’t do any scales or anything like trained singers or opera singers do. I don’t even know how to do scales! What I do know is how to sing in a contemporary fashion.”

A showman

He also knows how to entertain. Humperdinck is the type of performer who doesn’t have to rely on hit records or trends or TV appearances to keep audiences turning out. Even today, he does about 80 concerts a year all around the globe. He's an old-school entertainer: He picks terrific songs and presents them with great flair. Additionally, he boasts a playful sense of humor, which means the sentiment at his shows never runs too thick.

“I had an apprenticeship of working in some council clubs in England, and that put me in good stead for my future in show business," he says. "It was very good training. You’d see other acts and how they’d handle an audience. You tend to steal a little bit from some people, and then eventually it becomes your own.” 

Another part of the Humperdinck mystique? Good, old-fashioned sex appeal. With his thick dark hair, long sideburns and pouty lips, he was known for making heartsflutter. Even that hasn't changed too much.

"I'm very lucky in a lot of respects," Humperdinck says. "I haven't used the Beverly Hills knives to shape my face. I haven't changed my appearance. I've stayed as normal as I can. My skin is good to this day, thanks to good genes left to me by my wonderful parents."

Not even a little tuck here or there?

"No, no, no," he says. "I never want to do that. As you grow older, you get a little looseness in your neck. I'm not bothered by that. That's part of aging, part of life. And I'm very lucky with hair, it's all my own."

Retirement not in the plans

With everything in good working order, he's trying to enjoy the anniversary. Decca has released a terrific 11-disc set, “The Complete Decca Studio Albums,” which captures all his long-players from 1967 to 1973. A two-disc set that features some new recordings, “50,” reached No. 5 on the British charts. And there’s a new album due in October, so it seems he won't be slowing down any time soon.

"As long as people want me out there and I'm able to stand out on that stage, the platform, I'm happy to be continuing with this wonderful career that has been given to me," he says. "It's a blessing."








The Complete Decca Studio AlbumsThe Complete Decca Studio Albums
Engelbert Humperdinck - 50Engelbert Humperdinck - 50
Christmas CDChristmas CD
Runaway CountryRunaway Country
Engelbert CallingEngelbert Calling
We Made It Happen/SweetheartWe Made It Happen/Sweetheart
My Love/King of HeartsMy Love/King of Hearts
Legacy of Love Disc 2Legacy of Love Disc 2
Legacy of Love Disc 1Legacy of Love Disc 1
The Winding Road The Winding Road
An Introduction to Engelbert HumperdinckAn Introduction to Engelbert Humperdinck
Totally Amazing Totally Amazing
Best of Engelbert Humperdinck: The Millenium CollectionBest of Engelbert Humperdinck: The Millenium Collection
Let There Be Love Let There Be Love
Love Songs and BalladsLove Songs and Ballads
His Greatest Love Songs His Greatest Love Songs
Release MeRelease Me
Always Hear the Harmony: The Gospel Sessions Always Hear the Harmony: The Gospel Sessions
Engelbert Humperdinck Live Engelbert Humperdinck Live
Definition of Love Definition of Love
You Belong to My Heart You Belong to My Heart
Love is the Reason [DM]Love is the Reason [DM]
Red Sails in the Sunset Red Sails in the Sunset
I Want to Wake Up With You I Want to Wake Up With You
It’s All in the Game It’s All in the Game
Original Gold Vol. 2Original Gold Vol. 2
Original Gold Vol. 1Original Gold Vol. 1
Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck & the Royal Philharmonic OrchestraEvening with Engelbert Humperdinck & the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
An Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck An Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck
#1 Love Songs of All Time#1 Love Songs of All Time
At His Very BestAt His Very Best
The Engelbert Humperdinck Collection The Engelbert Humperdinck Collection
Live at the Royal Albert HallLive at the Royal Albert Hall
In the Still of the Night: 20 Beautiful Love SongsIn the Still of the Night: 20 Beautiful Love Songs
Dance Album [Bonus Track]Dance Album [Bonus Track]
The Best of Engelbert Humperdinck Live The Best of Engelbert Humperdinck Live
Merry Christmas with Engelbert HumperdinckMerry Christmas with Engelbert Humperdinck
Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck 2 [Live] Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck 2 [Live]
Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck 1 [Live]Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck 1 [Live]
The Dance AlbumThe Dance Album
16 Most Requested Songs16 Most Requested Songs
From the HeartFrom the Heart
Live in JapanLive in Japan
After DarkAfter Dark
You are So BeautifulYou are So Beautiful
Sings BalladsSings Ballads
The Magic of ChristmasThe Magic of Christmas
Magic NightMagic Night
Engelbert Humperdinck Sings the ClassicsEngelbert Humperdinck Sings the Classics
Love UnchainedLove Unchained
Christmas EveChristmas Eve
Engelbert I Love YouEngelbert I Love You
Step into My LifeStep into My Life
An Evening with Engelbert HumperdinckAn Evening with Engelbert Humperdinck
Yours: Quiereme MuchoYours: Quiereme Mucho
Hello Out ThereHello Out There
Engelbert Heart of GoldEngelbert Heart of Gold
Step into My LifeStep into My Life
Love is the ReasonLove is the Reason
Live in Concert/All of MeLive in Concert/All of Me
Remember I Love YouRemember I Love You
Getting SentimentalGetting Sentimental
You and Your LoverYou and Your Lover
Misty BlueMisty Blue
Don't You Love Me Anymore?Don't You Love Me Anymore?
A Merry Christmas with Engelbert HumperdinckA Merry Christmas with Engelbert Humperdinck
Love’s Only LoveLove’s Only Love
Engelbert Sings the HitsEngelbert Sings the Hits
This Moment in TimeThis Moment in Time
Love LettersLove Letters
The Last of the RomanticsThe Last of the Romantics
A Time For UsA Time For Us
Engelbert Sings For YouEngelbert Sings For You
Christmas TymeChristmas Tyme
After the Lovin’After the Lovin’
The World of Engelbert HumperdinckThe World of Engelbert Humperdinck
Engelbert Humperdinck His Greatest HitsEngelbert Humperdinck His Greatest Hits
My LoveMy Love
Engelbert King of HeartsEngelbert King of Hearts
In TimeIn Time
Live at the Riviera Las VegasLive at the Riviera Las Vegas
Another Time, Another PlaceAnother Time, Another Place
We Made It HappenWe Made It Happen
Engelbert HumperdinckEngelbert Humperdinck
A Man Without LoveA Man Without Love
Last WaltzLast Waltz
Release MeRelease Me