For Engelbert Humperdinck, the lovin never ends
By John Berger Tribune News Service, Posted Feb 22, 2020 at 6:03 AM, Star News Online
The longtime singer is bringing a concert featuring his many pop hits to Wilmington’s CFCC Wilson Center on March 1.
Americans discovered the British pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck in 1967 when Parrot Records released “Release Me,” a bittersweet request from the singer to someone he no longer loves to “please release me, let me go.”
The song reached No. 4 on the Billboard singles charts and was the start of a career that continues more than 50 years later. Humperdinck, 83, will be in Wilmington on Sunday, March 1, for a concert at Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center.
He’s a two-time Grammy nominee, for 1976 hit “After the Lovin’” and 2002 album “Always Hear The Harmony: The Gospel Sessions.” The following Q&A is from an interview the singer did in late 2018.
Q: Going back to the beginning, did you expect “Release Me” was going to be a hit?
A: You expect things to happen, but (“Release Me”) sat down for three months on a shelf and it didn’t move. Then all of a sudden my manager got a phone call to say, “Is he available to do (TV show) ‘Sunday Night at the London Palladium?’ ” I sang “Release Me,” and the next day -- bingo! Can you believe what that song did for me? It gave me a global career.
Q: How did you meet Elvis Presley?
A: He came to see my show at the Riviera (in Las Vegas) and he came in done up to the nines -- he was wearing his cape and everything. Of course I found out he was in (the room) and I was very nervous. I introduced him, he stood up on the table and opened his cape, and the audience went berserk for 10 minutes. I’m not joking. He stopped the show for 10 minutes! But afterward we became great friends. He taught me stagecraft, humility and not to take yourself too seriously.
What is your show like these days?
I’ll be singing the standards that people expect me to sing and (new) songs. There’s a song written by Bruno Mars, “Just the Way You Are.” I’ve given it a different treatment altogether than he does -- nobody can sing it like he does -- but I’ve given it a different format, it’s more romantic and a little bit slower.
It is true that Bruno performed for you when he was the world’s youngest Elvis?
Yes it is. Many years ago my fan club had a party here for me and the entertainment was a little 5-year-old boy -- Bruno. I said to him then, “Young man, you are going to be a big star.” Well, he’s not a big star, he’s a megastar.
You mentioned learning some stagecraft from Elvis. Are there other entertainers who influenced you?
I learned a lot from watching Ray Charles, and Dean Martin. Dean was one of my favorite entertainers. He was another guy who never took himself too seriously.
What else are you doing these days?
I’m making albums. (Most recently, 2019 EP “Reflections.”) And I try to stay with my wife (Patricia Healey) as much as possible.
Have you ever met any descendants of the other Engelbert Humperdinck -- the 19th -- century German composer?
No, but I was asked the other day if I wrote (the 19th-century Humperdinck opera) “Hansel und Gretel.” I said, “Are you crazy? You’re talking about something that was written in 1893.