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Showbiz legend Engelbert Humperdinck on life

December 14, 2018

Fifty years after his debut, the veteran entertainer is as beloved as ever, touring Europe and America to perform to legions of his ‘Humperdinckers’. Following the release of Warmest Christmas Wishes, his first Christmas album in nearly three decades, the singer talks to Alex Green about faith, family and his wife Patricia’s illness.

Engelbert Humperdinck is driving home for Christmas. At least he will be tomorrow, when he leaves London after four days of gruelling interviews.

The veteran balladeer (82) is promoting his first Christmas album in nearly 30 years. Tomorrow he drives to Leicester for early festivities with his family.

“It’s so accurate, a song like that — the song is so real,” he says of Chris Rea’s classic, chatting happily in a quiet corner on the 15th floor of the St George’s Hotel in central London.

The world-famous crooner has the tanned skin and slim figure of a much younger man. Only his poor hearing gives away his octogenarian status.

His wife Patricia is not with him and will not be travelling to Leicester. At the couple’s home in warm Bel Air, Los Angeles, she is being treated for Alzheimer’s.

Humperdinck, who changed his name from Arnold George Dorsey, recently went public about Patricia’s decade-long battle with the illness, which has seen him search desperately for a cure. He will return to LA to spend Christmas Day with her.

“My family has always been important to me,” he explains. “At Christmas time, we celebrate together, but this year I can’t come home to Leicester because of my wife’s illness. Hopefully, when she is better, we will come and spend Christmas at home.”

His wife’s illness dominates the conversation, but Humperdinck is overwhelmingly optimistic. They met over 50 years ago at a dancehall in Leicester, and married in 1964. Now, she struggles to recognise his face.

The performer, known for his deep Catholic faith, credits prayer for preventing her condition from worsening.

“The reason I went public with her condition is because I do have great faith and I believe that the more people who pray, the more it forms a chain, a rosary of prayer,” he says.

“I think prayer is one of the greatest healers around, more than medication.”

He has been investigating alternative medicine, looking to India and Sri Lanka for cures.

“I don’t think you should rely on (regular) medicine,” he declares. “I think you should rely upon herbal doctors, acupuncture and doctors outside the medical world with different kinds and forms of treatment. I rely upon nature to provide the cure for my wife.”

He claims to have found success in electrical acupuncture — shock treatment he claims can form new stem cells. “I think it’s had a lot to do with the repairing of my wife’s health,” the singer insists.

Still a formidable performer with a voice seemingly unaffected by age, Humperdinck has had to reduce his touring schedule to spend more time with his wife.

“It’s hard to leave her,” he says, “but she’s in reliable hands. She has her carers and I have to work.”

Humperdinck’s sharp sense of humour and gentle swagger remain intact, even after 51 years in showbusiness.

When he turns to discussing his fans, dubbed the ‘Humperdinckers’, he is fiercely defensive. Trolling, he says, has never been a problem.

“You do get a bad apple now and again, but that doesn’t matter. You ignore that,” he adds, before chuckling to himself: “I don’t get the bad apples.”

Humperdinck may not be a household name for those under the age of 30, but he has impacted modern music in extraordinary ways. Damon Albarn tried to recruit him for his Gorillaz project, and a recent album saw him collaborate with Elton John.

Humperdinck keeps one eye on the changing landscape of popular taste.

He says Ariana Grande is a “talent beyond” and his dream duet partner, and happily explains his aspirations to appear The Voice, which he uses as a barometer of popular opinion.

“I like watching those shows because they present music that is of today’s nature,” he explains.

“This is the way I keep in touch with what is going on in the modern world.”

Aside from faith and family, his third great love is football, specifically Leicester City FC.

It is no surprise that the death of club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha touched him.

The Thai billionaire lifted the team to Premier League champions, but he died in a helicopter crash at the grounds earlier this year.

“It’s a tragedy. It was terrible, terrible. He was such a wonderful man,” the singer sighs.

“They came to LA to play in a match over there, and I went over to watch them rehearse, I mean practice. Ah, I’m from showbusiness, you see.

“I met all the team and had the trophy in my hands. Oh yes, it was my pride and joy. It was wonderful.”

For now, Humperdinck plans to focus all his energy on caring for his wife, snatching time to sing for his fans when he can. Despite all this, he feels a deep sense of optimism.

“You can’t sit at home and wait for things to happen,” he insists.

“You have to be here,” he adds, slapping the table top with the palm of his right hand.

“You have to be here talking to people. That’s the way I am. I’m not tired of it. I love doing it and I’m still very flattered that people still want to talk to me.”

Warmest Christmas Wishes is out now






Warmest Christmas WishesWarmest Christmas Wishes
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