On Stage - The Unionville Times
The singer whose career has flourished for more than a half-century is Engelbert Humperdinck, who will be bringing his “The Angel on My Shoulder Tour” to the American Music Theatre (2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, 800-0 648-4102, www.AMTshows.com) on April 7.
He has recorded everything from the most romantic ballads to movie theme songs, disco, rock, and even gospel. Some of the evergreen hits that belong to Engelbert include “After the Lovin’,” “The Last Waltz,” “Spanish Eyes,” “Quando, Quando, Quando,” and the unforgettable “Release Me,” which spent 56 consecutive weeks on the charts.
“I’ve always wanted to be in show business, and I’ve maintained it by giving people what they want to hear – going all the way back to songs such as ‘Release Me’ and ‘A Man Without Love.’ I continue to play shows around the world. I just came back from a tour of Australia, Tahiti, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia.”
The youngest boy of a family of 10 children originally from Leicester, England, he grew up in Madras (Chennai), India, where his father was stationed during World War II. He knew he could sing harmonies, but the power of his own voice came as a surprise to him and other people.
According to Humperdinck, “It’s just so loud, but I discovered I can be tender with it at the same time. My mother’s side of the family had the singing voice so I must have inherited that from her. My father was a man’s man – strong, athletic, charismatic. And I like to do all kind of men things. I love sports, golf, tennis martial arts, soccer, skiing, but, at the same time, yes I do appreciate women.”
At the age of 11, Humperdinck, whose birth name is Arnold George Dorsey, started studying music and playing the saxophone. When he was 17, he was playing at a pub that sponsored a singing contest. Goaded by his friends to enter, he put down his sax and for the first time revealed another vocal talent — impersonations. He gave an incredible impersonation of comedian Jerry Lewis and was quickly dubbed Gerry Dorsey by his fans. It soon became his professional stage name.
Gerry Dorsey was very popular on the UK music circuit and in 1959 he released a single called, “Crazybells/ Mister Music Man” on Decca Records. However, he contracted tuberculosis, which silenced him for six months and nearly ended his rising music career. Upon regaining his health, Gerry Dorsey knew he had to end his former image to make a comeback as a strong, dynamic performer. A former manager suggested the new moniker.
Humperdinck exploded onto the music scene in the 1960s in England along with The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The shy handsome boy catapulted almost instantly to world icon. He became great friends with Elvis Presley and the two legends often performed each other’s songs.
“I used to write songs a lot but not now. I am responsible for my musical arrangements. I make a big judgment on what is going to appeal to the masses. My audience is an unbelievable cross-section – people of all ages from very young to very old. For me, that’s really nice to see.”
A native of Leicester, England, he has been a life-long fan of Leicester City F.C., a football team in England’s Premier League. In the 2015-2016 season, the Foxes won their first-ever Premiership title. It was a remarkable event considering British bookmakers thought Leicester’s victory was so unlikely that Ladbrokes and William Hill offered odds of 5,000-1 for it at the start of the season.