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Engelbert Humperdinck still shocked by success of Ten Guitars

February 07, 2019

Kate Robertson Feb 08 2019, Stuff NZ

Fifty-two years on from its release, Ten Guitars still holds a special place in Engelbert Humperdinck's heart.

The song, which was little more than a B side to Release Me, became an instant Kiwi classic.

Humperdinck tells Stuff he was "shocked," but in the very best way.

These days, the 82-year old can't imagine putting on a show in Aotearoa where he doesn't indulge in playing it twice: "once for me and once for the audience," he says.

The surprise success of the song means New Zealand remains one of the Spanish Eyes singer's favourite countries to tour.

"I do love playing in New Zealand. I love it because Ten Guitars is like the national anthem of New Zealand," Humperdinck says.

He'll return to the country later this month, performing in Auckland on February 28, Christchurch on March 2 and Wellington on March 4. He's playing sizeable venues, but none of them will compare to the New Zealand show that remains one of his fondest touring memories.

"I believe we played in New Zealand to quarter of a million people at one time," he recalls.

"I couldn't see the back of the crowd, it was that big and that large. That's the time I had to do Ten Guitars three times. That's one of the highlights of my life, because it's one of the biggest crowds I've ever played to."

This time round, Humperdinck says Kiwis can expect to hear a selection of classics, along with a number of songs from his 2017 album The Man I Want to Be.

The album is a love letter to his wife Patricia Healy, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

The record features a small handful of covers alongside a number of original songs, one of which now stands as an important piece of Humperdinck family history.

I'm Glad I Danced With You was written by Humperdinck's daughter Louise Sarah Dorsey and her partner Tony Taliaferro, and features the vocals of his granddaughter Olivia Taliaferro.

He says Olivia, who was just nine at the time of recording, "sings these lyrics that were written for my wife so well."

"I met my wife at a dance hall when she was 17, and that's what the song is all about, that I met her when she was 17 and we've been together ever since," he says.

The album, which Humperdinck confidently states is "one of the best I've ever done", also includes re-arranged covers of the Ed Sheeran hit Photograph and the Bruno Mars song Just the Way You Are.

He says the decision to include contemporary songs from young artists has "worked out amazing".

First and foremost he admires their work, but he's also quick to point out that ties on the Bruno Mars track run deeper than most would be aware.

"The Bruno Mars song has quite the story attached to it," he says, pausing for effect.

"I met Bruno Mars in Hawaii many, many years ago, and he performed for me at one of my fan club parties. He was five years old at the time. I said, young man, you're going to be a big star."

"But he's not big, he's a mega star, and so now I'm recording one of his songs."





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