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Ron Onesti: Engelbert Humperdinck reigns with class

April 20, 2018

By Ron Onesti

Special to dailyherald.com, April 20, 2018

Few performers out touring today still represent the glitz, glamour and class of the tuxedoed entertainers of the 1960s. Tony Bennett, Tom Jones and Paul Anka are still out there, giving magical shows and bringing all audiences' memories to life.Another guy with whom I have been very fortunate to work with on several occasions is the epitome of class and ultimate entertainment … Engelbert Humperdinck.

 

On many nights at The Arcada, we are rockin' hard with those blazing guitars and bangin' snares, but we also have nights like the ones when living legends grace our stage and bring us all back to a calmer, sweeter time in our lives. A time when music was more about families joining together in front of a television, sharing the music and comedy of the day, after a pot roast dinner on a Sunday afternoon.

As a child of the early '70s, my musical heart lies within the classic rock of that decade. I am a rock 'n' roller deep down, but I was also brought up in a time when Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and Dick Clark were the talent "showcasers" of the day, and when variety show hosts like Carol Burnett, Sonny & Cher, Dean Martin and many others were the hottest thing on our TV (in Technicolor!).

Speaking of "hottest" things on TV, what about the great Tom Jones and his show? Every single female in my extended family, from cousins to aunts, joined together to watch this "Prince of Wales" grind his way into the hearts of millions of women around the world. And the music was fabulous, too, prompting loud singalongs in the front rooms of homes everywhere.

These were classier times on TV, when the showmen of the day wore tuxedos on a regular basis. Rarely did you see Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jones, Humperdinck, Sammy, Bennett and the like without sporting a hand-tied bow tie and vest or cummerbund. Even Elvis wore a tux as he did duet medleys on TV with Frank.

I'm not saying I don't like the styles of various generations as they have evolved over the years on television, but those were just plain classier days.

And I am here to tell you, that when it comes to class, rarely will you find a finer example of entertainment elegance than you will with Engelbert Humperdinck.

As his musicians and vocalists usually travel in a caravan of two buses, he flies into the city of his next performance. He likes fine cars, often speaking of his classic automobiles, mainly Jaguars and Rolls-Royces. So I always pick him up from the airport and hotel in something sleek and sporty, but something spacey to accommodate his long limbs and fit physique.

We celebrated his 80th birthday on his last trip! It is hard to believe that a guy who looks like him, sounds like him and moves like him, is just over 80! But man, he owns it, and delivers a show as good as it ever was in the grandest of Las Vegas showrooms and big-city theaters.

As I spoke with him about his upcoming performance at The Arcada this Sunday, he re-thanked me for a painting I gave him the last time he played The Arcada. He was sitting in our dressing rooms where I had a painting of the late Woodstock-era guitar superstar Jimi Hendrix. I was walking by the room and noticed him just staring at the psychedelic representation of Hendrix. "Did you know him?" I asked.

"Oh, very well," he said. "He was a giant of a man, a true gentleman. Everything that people say about him being a musical genius is true. The way he played those guitars, he actually played the thing upside down! He had the guitars restrung backward and played the guitar upside down to accommodate his left-handed style! He was a genius!"

Engelbert also told me about the time Jimi was on the bill with him, Cat Stevens and others during "Hump's" first tour of the U.K. "My guitar player got sick and could not perform. Jimi offered to step in, but he had just come out with 'Purple Haze' and his stardom would have disrupted our show, I felt. So he played behind a curtain! It sounded like three guitars were playing! It was incredible, and nobody knew about it."

In a turn of activity that doesn't usually happen, I autographed the back of the painting (With love from The Arcada Theatre) and presented HIM with a souvenir of the night! It is usually the other way around! He graciously accepted our gift, and now says it is proudly framed and mounted in his home office. A piece of The Arcada is in HIS home!

His show was a combination all-hits concert and career retrospective, including rare video footage of he and Dean Martin doing medleys, a duet with Elton John's voice piped in, a country number with him in a cowboy hat and a couple of choreographed routines with his backup vocalists. He even shared some funny stories of Dean referring to him as "Engledinck Bumpalump!" And his voice? Powerful as ever, with an incredible range. What a night it's going to be this Sunday!

During his show, he is proud to proclaim he has not touched alcohol in 22 years, which I found strange because each time we worked together, we shared expensive cabernets after the shows. But then he subsequently announces that he lied about the alcohol thing, and toasts to the audience with glass of Bordeaux. He really keeps the crowd smiling and in sincere laughter for the entire two hours.

After the show last year, he took his final bows in a bright red, knee-length bathrobe with his name embroidered on front. He proceeded to jump around the stage, throwing boxing jabs and karate chops. Remember, 81 YEARS OLD! He then made his way back to my car outside the backstage door, stopping for a few adoring fans along the way. He gave us his all, and the crowd returned the favor with all of its devotion.

It is interesting that a guy with so many syllables in his name would be so classy of an individual. Although, the "Bumpalump" name is really growing on me!

Just a few great seats are available for Engelbert Humperdink live at The Arcada Theatre this Sunday at 4 p.m. Call (630) 962-7000 or visit www.oshows.com.

• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email ron@oshows.com.

 

http://www.dailyherald.com/insights/20180420/ron-onesti-engelbert-humperdink-reigns-with-class

 

 

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Discography

The Complete Decca Studio AlbumsThe Complete Decca Studio Albums
Engelbert Humperdinck - 50Engelbert Humperdinck - 50
Christmas CDChristmas CD
Runaway CountryRunaway Country
Engelbert CallingEngelbert Calling
ReleasedReleased
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
GoldGold
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
FeelingsFeelings
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
YoursYours
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
MiraclesMiracles
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
SweetheartSweetheart
We Made It HappenWe Made It Happen
Engelbert HumperdinckEngelbert Humperdinck
EngelbertEngelbert
A Man Without LoveA Man Without Love
Last WaltzLast Waltz
Release MeRelease Me