EH Washington Post Interview
He’s been called Humpty Dumpty, but he once beat out the Beatles
By Laura Hambleton December 14 at 2:32 PM, Washington Post
He was born Arnold George Dorsey, in India, where his British father was working as an engineer. But he achieved worldwide fame with the unlikely name of Engelbert Humperdinck, and his Vegas-style love ballads and lamb-chop sideburns. Now 79 and still giving concerts, Humperdinck says he watches “The Voice” to see what young people sing and follows a daily regimen of exercise and crossword puzzles to keep mind and body healthy.
About his name, he says a manager suggested it in the 1960s, and he’s been called everything from Pumpernickel to Humpty Dumpty as a result. (It’s also the same as a 19th century German composer.) “Dean Martin never called me Engelbert. He always called me, ‘Hey, Humpty Bumpy, Lumpty Dumpy.’ ” Humperdinck likes to say he once bumped the Beatles from the top of the charts with his 1967 song “Release Me.”
He recently spoke to The Post from his home in Los Angeles, where he lives most of the year. Below is an edited transcript of his remarks.
You’re 79. How do you get ready for performances? Has that changed as you’ve aged?
Not really. If I’m playing at any distance [from home]. I like to get to the venue the day before so I can have a good rest, wake up fresh for the concert. I go over for a sound check about 3 o’clock. I stay there at the venue. I shower. I warm up in the shower. Steam helps the vocal cords.
I don’t do any scales. I still have a 3 1/2 -octave range, which is rather large.
How have you maintained that?
I’ve been lucky. As you get older, you get a very slow vibrato. My vibrato seems to have disappeared, rather than gotten slower.
How do you learn to improve?
My career is 48 years old. I am still learning on a daily basis how to improve my performance. What I do is to stay in tune with what’s happening in today’s world. The only way to do that is to watch the shows on television and see what the young people are doing today. Shows like “The Voice.”
It seems these people are given proper direction in order to win their way in the world. They do songs for today’s markets. I listen to those sort of things and see what’s happening. Sometimes I give my own judgments, sitting in my chair: “I think you should do this and do that.”
They don’t give body language or mic technique help [on most of those shows]. A lot of people put the mic right up to their mouths. That bothers me. I think people should see your face and read what you are trying to portray by looking at your face rather than just listening to a sound.
You are like an actor on a stage. You don’t see an actor on the stage with a mic in his face. You’re reading his facial expression. That’s what counts: body language, facial expression, eye contact, these sorts of things. I consider myself a thespian of song. When I am onstage, I act the song out. People can see what I am doing with my face and body language.
That is what has kept me in a long career. People understand what I am saying.
Is that your trademark?
It is something I’ve learned when you’ve seen people onstage of value like an Elvis, who had tremendous body language and facial expression. He was a genius.
What young artists do you listen to?
I don’t know that many young performers. Being in my category in my age group, I stay with people who have had long-lasting careers, the Elton Johns, Lady Gagas.
Bruno Mars is a very good performer. I think he’s great.
I think the Stones have had a long-lasting career. I love watching them. They bring magic to the stage. They have for so many years. They are still around and still at the top of their careers.
How do you describe yourself as a performer?
I have a sense of humor. I think that is important to a person’s life. I make fun of myself. You would, too, if you had a funny name like mine. People have called me all kinds of names — like Pumpernickel, which is bread. Humpty Dumpy. Dean Martin never called me by Engelbert. He always called me “Hey, Humpty Bumpy, Lumpty Dumpy.”
Dean was very instrumental in my career. When I first came to America, he took me to Las Vegas, to prestigious places in order to get my career a boost. He took me to all these hotels. The one I ended up playing was owned by Dean Martin. I played there nine years.
He not only gave me a boost by putting his name on the marquee — “Dean Martin presents” — we became good friends. I did his show and he did mine. It was wonderful. A great relationship.
Do you miss those years?
Those were the golden years. I did play with the greats, with the Ray Charleses and people like that. I knew Elvis very well. I didn’t get to sing with him, but I knew him very well. I enjoyed his mastery, his masterful performances onstage. I learned a lot from watching him.
One thing he did take from me is my sideburns. I told him to.
Do you miss that younger man in sideburns?
I still have my sideburns. I can’t do without those. People make fun of me, saying in my younger years, “Engelbert looks as though he is always on the phone.”
They were very good to me because it was image. I had my own hairstyle with sideburns. I had a funny name. All that put together made up Engelbert Humperdinck the singer.
Do you still have the same drive after all these years on stage?
I worked a lot more in the early days. I had more time to polish things. When I first started, I used to do 300 [shows] a year. It was too much. It took away my home life, took away from enjoying my life, when I was working. Show business is tough on performers. One hour onstage is like 16 hours of manual labor, physically and mentally. Now, I do 90 concerts a year.
I am not as fit as I used to be 40 years ago, [though] I can still do the things I did in my early 30s and 40s. I play tennis and golf. I touch the bag, now and again.
What is your typical day?
I go downstairs, I have my cup of coffee, I do two crosswords from an English newspaper my secretary downloads. I have my breakfast. I might go on a bike ride. Then I will go for 20 minutes on a treadmill to keep my body in shape.
To enjoy my life, I do have my Harley, which I ride in the hills of L.A. to feel the wind in my face. My other pastime is golf — and tennis. Apart from those, I love television. I love watching repeats. I love comedy — “Seinfeld,” “Two and a Half Men.”
You’ve been married about 50 years. Do you sing to your wife?
Oh, yeah, I try things on her. She does give comments. She has been my judge and jury over the years. I couldn’t have chosen a better lady to be by my side. It’s been 50 years.
You said you write poems.
I wrote one the other day. Do you want to hear it?
Yes, I do.
At times I dream I am on the ocean
No destination in view
Floating like a timber, torn away from its earthly roots
The water rocks me gently as I try to sleep
The pitter-patter of a ripple, softly touching my cheeks
Gazing at the sky above, my mind adrift in silent wonder
On a rolling veil of tears, or so it seems
As I toss and tumble through the waves, I ask God
to pave the way to where it is calm
and softening the haste and the harm
I pray that peace beholds the holy land we live
And love waits to cradle you safely to your heart and home.
I have a very sensitive and emotional side to me.
That’s it. That’s my life.
Jozi fans love Engelbert Humperdinck
After a short illness earlier this week, legendary crooner, Engelbert Humperdinck was on stage at the Teatro last night delighting an almost capacity crowd who enthusiastically welcomed this musical icon to Johannesburg. The audience burst into applause as they heard the first notes of many of his ever-popular hits such as (Please) Release Me, Spanish Eyes and The Last Waltz. Engelbert Humperdinck had the crowd singing along with great enthusiasm to a host of hits, many of which are sure to hold many special memories for his local fans.
To avoid disappointment, music lovers and fans who don’t yet have tickets to the Engelbert Humperdinck concert at the Teatro are encouraged to book now at Computicket for tonight’s concert or Friday’s concert which was added to the Johannesburg tour dates in lieu of Monday night’s postponed concert. Patrons who have valid tickets for Monday night’s concert are reminded that their tickets are automatically valid for this Friday’s concert. Presentation of tickets dated 23 November at Friday's concert will be accepted. Ticket holders with tickets for Monday’s postponed concert who are unable to make Friday’s concert may take their tickets to a Computicket service centre to exchange their tickets for tonight’s concert subject to availability in the same price category or they may request a full refund. All exchanges and refunds will be facilitated at a Computicket service centre. Unfortunately website ticket transactions cannot be reversed on line.
The 90 minute concert is more than a trip down memory lane. It’s a musical experience in the company of one of the world’s greatest singers. Don’t miss it! Book now for tonight or Friday night’s concerts at Computicket on 0861 915 8000, visit www.computicket.com or visit your nearest Computicket service centre. Details available at www.montecasino.co.za and www.showtime.co.za
Venue: Teatro at Montecasino
Dates and times:
Wednesday, 25 November 2015 at 8pm
Friday, 27 November 2015 at 8pm
R500, R550, R650, R750, R850
Debbi de Souza
Review: Engelbert Humperdinck
Engelbert Humperdinck is 79 years old, but after almost two hours of crooning and plenty of moves, you wouldn’t believe it. It’s an evening of his best-known hits, a couple of covers and some of his new material – the perfect mix of old and new to provide a brilliant night’s entertainment.
Cape Town is not known for having good, interactive, audiences but at GrandWest Engelbert Humperdinck proved that statement a fallacy.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, because let’s be honest, the audience was of a more ‘mature’ age. That didn’t stop them from singing along, as Humperdinck sang his way through his greats like “Quando, Quando, Quando”, “Spanish Eyes” and “The Last Waltz”. The audience was like a mass choir.
There was plenty of teen-esque screaming, too, when Humperdinck stripped off his jacket and tie and undid a couple of buttons as things got hotter. His sequined belt and pants stripes sparkled in the simple but pretty stage lighting.
Nevertheless, this was a concert about the music. Humperdinck was accompanied by a full band, including a grand piano and two young blonde-bombshell backing singers. At one point, they joined him – sporting a cowboy hat – for a fabulous song from his latest album, Runaway Country, complete with some line dancing.
Screens to the sides of the stage showed footage from his younger days. He still has the sideburns and the personality, cracking jokes and telling stories from his over forty years in the music industry.
He sang a fabulous rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”, and a beautiful duet with (a recorded) Elton John of his hit “Something About The Way You Look Tonight”. Humperdinck has collaborated with a number of stars, including Elton John, Willie Nelson and Johnny Mathis on his album Humperdinck Calling.
One thing’s for sure, Engelbert Humperdinck may be turning 80 next year, but he’s still a consummate showman with a voice to pull your heartstrings. Judging by the throng of screaming ladies who rushed the stage as he threw red handkerchiefs at the end of the show, he hasn’t lost his sex appeal either!
RESCHEDULED CONCERT - TONIGHT JOHANNESBURG
Due to slight chest infection EH Drs have ordered one complete days vocal rest.
Tonights concert in Johannesburg has been rescheduled to Friday Nov 27.
Tickets will be honoured on Friday or contact the point of purchase for a full refund
EH is sad not to be performing tonight but looks forward to entertaining his South African fans very soon and apologises for any inconvenience caused by this.
Wed and Thursday performances are scheduled to go ahead as planned.
Engelbert Radio Interview on Cliff Central
Engelbert Humperdinck Does An Ed Sheeran Song Live
Music legend Engelbert Humperdinck is performing Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ on his current Australian tour and he says he is a big fan of Ed’s.
“This kid is going to be around a long, long time because he is humble,” Engelbert tells Noise11.com. “He is very nice to people. He is not conceited. He has all this talent and now he must have an awful lot of money and he is still a nice guy. I hope he remains that way because I’m a big fan”.
Engelbert puts his own unique style into the Ed Sheeran song. “I hope the audience like my version of his song. It is different,” he says. “I do sing it a little different obviously but he made his mark with it and there are other performers who enjoy doing other people’s material, especially if it’s a great song. I do enjoy singing other people’s material now and then”.
Ed Sheeran is managed by Elton John’s management company and Elton makes a video cameo at the Engelbert show when they perform their duet ‘Something About The Way You Look Tonight’. The two go way back.
Elton is a sweet guy. He is just a lovely man. The funny thing with Elton, we were in the studio for over an hour just talking about old times and how we first met. I met him on a plane from LA on the way to London. He was sitting in front. I was very shy in the early days and wanted to go over and say hello to him. Later I was looking out the window and I felt someone sit on the handle of my chair. It was Elton. ‘Hey how are you?’ he said and it took so much pressure off me. This big man came over to talk to me and I should have gone over to talk to him. I was the shy one. I was so happy that he came over and spoke to me and we have been friends ever since”.
by PAUL CASHMERE on OCTOBER 29, 2015
REVIEW: Engelbert Humperdinck Plays Melbourne
They don’t make stars like Engelbert Humperdinck anymore. Once upon a time fame came from talent, not celebrity and Engelbert Humperdinck is one of the greatest talents of the past half a century. To be in the presence of a star like Engelbert Humperdinck is to be in the presence of greatness.
Engelbert is a few years shy of the 50th anniversary of his first hit ‘Release Me’ (1967) but over the course of a two-hour show gives the audience a lifetime of memories.
Engelbert’s hit songs like ‘The Last Waltz’, ‘After The Lovin’, ‘There Goes My Everything’, ‘A Man Without Love’ and ‘Am I That Easy To Forget’ are some of the greatest hits of all time and essential to the show. ‘Release Me’ kept The Beatles ‘Penny Lane’ from going to number one ending a consecutive run of number ones for the Fab Four started in their early days. However, it’s the new songs that give an Engelbert show its 21st century relevance.
Just as he was championed by Dean Martin at the start of his career Engelbert Humperdinck recognises new talent coming through and acknowledges Ed Sheeran as one of the great talents of today who will be around in 50 years from now. Engelbert performs Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ as part of his 2015 show in his own unique style taking the young Sheeran’s work to a whole new audience.
Ed Sheeran is attached to Elton John’s management company and Engelbert also links to his long-time friend Elton with their duet ‘Something About The Way You Tonight’ synched with Elton’s voice for the show. The song was the nucleus of his previous album ‘Engelbert Calling’.
Engelbert’s new album ‘Runaway Country’ is also showcased in the show. For ‘Runaway Country’ Engelbert returns to his country roots. The title track ‘Runaway’ is one of the finest moments in song Engelbert has recorded in years and proudly sits inside the 2015 setlist as a highlight of the show.
The new album ‘Runaway Country’ also features Engelbert interpretations of Boz Scaggs’ stunning ‘Look What You’ve Done To Me’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’. The Scaggs song sounds tailor-made for Engelbert’s romantic style. He has a lot of fun with the Springsteen song, donning the cowboy hat and attempting to line-dance for the number.
The 2015 Engelbert Humperdinck show is different from the previous tours. There is a funny and well placed Kardashian comment, an hilarious video with Eddie Izzard about how he got his name and historic footage from a Dean Martin Show showing a young Engelbert at the start of his career in what may very well be the first time the world saw him endorsed by a prior legend.
Enjoy Engelbert in 2015. He will be back. As he told me in an interview earlier this week “why would I retire? What else would I do?”
Engelbert Humperdinck setlist, Melbourne, October 29, 2015
Another Time Another Place
Am I That Easy To Forget
A Man Without Love
After The Lovin’
Quando Quando Quando
The Hungry Years
Something About The Way You Look Tonight
Look What You’ve Done To Me
Thinking Out Loud
The Power of Love
I’m On Fire
How I Love You
The Last Waltz
This Moment In Time
The Way It Used To Be
There Goes My Everything
For The Good Times
by PAUL CASHMERE on OCTOBER 30, 2015
Nearing 80, Engelbert Humperdinck is as smooth now as ever
For his 81st album, Engelbert Humperdinck decided to go country.
The veteran crooner recorded “Runaway Country,” his first album of all-country tunes, which will also mark the debut of his own label Spin Records.
“Runaway” will be one of four numbers from the new album that Humperdinck performs 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Concert Venue at Harrah’s Resort.
“These are some of my favorite country songs — I decided to put them all on one album,” he says. “We’ll see what kind of reaction it gets out of the audience. That’s the main part — if the audience likes it.”
Having sold an estimated 150 million records worldwide, the former Arnold George Dorsey doesn’t have to worry too much about finding crowd-pleasing material to perform.
His best-known songs include “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again),” a country-tinged cover that was his first big hit back in 1967, as well as “There Goes My Everything,” “The Last Waltz,” “A Man Without Love” and “After the Lovin.’”
At this point in his long career, Humperdinck thought the timing right to strike out on his own with his label.
“In today’s world, record companies are falling down like flies,” he says. “This way, you have something that represents you, that you can sell on the Internet and your own website. It’s easier to do it that way. Therefore, in this modern world, you can go that particular route.”
The last few years have proven prolific for Humperdinck. Last fall, he released “Engelbert Calling,” a two-disc duets album featuring contributions from Elton John, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard and Gene Simmons, among nearly two dozen singing partners.
The record was inspired by a comment John, who performs “Something About The Way You Look Tonight,” once made on one of his own live albums.
“He said, I wrote a song many years ago when I was a struggling artist living in a flat in London and waiting for a person like Engelbert Humperdinck to come along and take the song,” he says.
This time around, Humperdinck picked up the phone to see if John was available.
“I never called then, but I called him a few years back to see about doing a duet on my album,” Humperdinck recalls. “I said, ‘I know it’s been a long time coming,’ and he said yes.
“He was the first one and that was great. Once you’ve got Elton, you’ve got the honeycomb.”
Next spring, Humperdinck will hit yet another milestone when he turns 80. He plans to sit down with his manager-son Scott Dorsey at the end of 2015 to chart out how to mark “the big year.”
One thing’s for certain, Humperdinck won’t be announcing his retirement.
“That word doesn’t even come into my head,” he says. “Fortunately, my genes are good and people don’t think I look my age, and I’m rather thrilled about it.”
Nor does he worry about his chops.
“My voice hasn’t really changed or waned — I’m touching wood as I say this, but there’s been no change. It’s as powerful as it was.
“The good thing is that I’ve learned a lot more.”
WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10
WHERE: The Concert Venue, Harrah’s Resort, 777 Harrah’s Blvd., Atlantic City
HOW MUCH: Tickets, priced at $45, $55 and $65, are available at Harrah’s box office and Ticketmaster
Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 3:45 pm
ROBERT DiGIACOMO, At The Shore, Press of Atlantic City.com
Engelbert Humperdinck on Elvis, success, and keys to his longevity
"I had trunks full of them," laughs singer Engelbert Humperdinck, recalling the way female fans used to throw underwear and hotel keys at him. "I'm not joking. Everyone thinks Tom Jones started that. No, I did!"
Born Arnold George Dorsey on May 2, 1936, in Chennai, India, the ninth of ten children, his family relocated to Leicester, England, ten years later.
Following an army discharge in 1956, he signed with the British Decca label. His first single, "I'll Never Fall In Love Again," failed to sell, as did all of his subsequent recordings for them. However, in 1967, with a new manager and name, his reworking of the old Ester Phillips hit "Release Me," became a huge seller and established him as an international singing star, something he remains to this day.
Some of his best-known hits over the years include "After The Lovin'," "A Man Without Love," "The Last Waltz" and "There Goes My Everything." His latest album, "Engelbert Calling," features duets with some of the world's best known singers, including Elton John, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Dionne Warwick and Johnny Mathis.
Humperdinck will be performing at Morristown, New Jersey’s Mayo Center on October, 6th, The Count Basie in Red Bank, NJ October, 7th, Westbury, New York’s NYCB Theatre, October 9th, and Harrah’s in Atlantic City, N.J., October 10th.
He says, “I'll be singing some of my standards, songs from my new album, as well as some new songs from other artists. It will be a lively evening, very entertaining, with a touch of humor."
Just be on the lookout for the possibly of flying female underwear and nametagged keyrings.
Elliot Stephen Cohen: This may seem like a ridiculous question to begin with, but do you prefer interviewers to address you as Mr. Dorsey or Mr. Humperdinck?
Engelbert Humperdinck: You know, you can't mix up the names, otherwise people won't know who I am. So, it's Engelbert, or Enge, or whatever you prefer.
ESC: I'm sure you've gone over the story of the origin of your stage name many times, but since many of our younger readers may be unaware, can you relate how it happened?
EH: Sure. I've been successful with the name for about 48 years, thank God. Before that, I tried getting recognized with my real name, Dorsey, but nothing happened. Then in 1965, my manager and good friend Gordon Mills, who is not on this earth any more, changed my name to Engelbert Humperdinck, which was the name of a German composer who passed in 1920. Since no else, at least that I was aware of had taken the name, I was on my way as Engelbert Humperdinck.
ESC: Since then we've had very successful performers who've changed their birth names to ones like Madonna, Prince, Beyoncé, but were you concerned that because of your new name, some critics might perceive you as a novelty act, or one-hit wonder?
EH: Yes, you're right. The name did sound like a novelty, but when I first starting in the business, many people felt they had to change their names to get recognized, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, even John Wayne was born with a different name, My manager also came up with the names for Tom Jones and Gilbert O'Sullivan, and we all owe him a great deal for our successes.
ESC: Of course, most of the early British rockers had names like Billy Fury, Tommy Steele, Alvin Stardust, Marty Wilde...
EH: Oh, yeah, they all had these managers who thought up these genius names for them, and they all became successful. I mean, I would have loved to become famous with my real name. My father and mother would have been totally proud that I was carrying the family name and being recognized all over the world, but that didn't transpire. So, therefore, changing my name made it possible to get recognized.
ESC: It's obviously worked well for you.
EH: Yes, it certainly has, but you know my success was really a combination of things. At that particular time, I thought a lot about what my image should be, and the Beatles came to mind. How did they make a name for themselves? They all had the same sort of unusual hairstyle. Even Yul Brynner got famous for his bald head, and Tony Curtis had his own hairstyle. People were getting recognized by their heads and the way they looked. So, in 1965 I decided to grow my sideburns long and color my hair jet black. It was all a combination of having that image, plus the name, and just like picking the right lottery number, picking the song "Release Me.” That record by the way, is in the Guinness Book of Records for being successful enough to stop the Beatles from having their 13th consecutive number one. Having my first number one record around the world gave me a global career immediately.
ESC: You have a new album "Engelbert Calling" which can be obtained through the Internet. As most of the big record chains like Tower, Virgin and HMV have folded, do you miss the days of all those huge record shops?
EH: Yes, it's a world that doesn't exist any more. I personally think it's sad that they're all gone because it was fun when you could actually go to a record store, look around to see who was in the Top Ten, and you could play a record to first see if you wanted to buy it. That was an exciting time in our lives, but they've taken away those Saturday mornings when you could go out and do your music shopping.
ESC: On your album, you sing with a pretty impressive list of singers. Were all of the recordings done separately or were any of them done “live,” face to face, the way duet albums used to be made?
EH: Some of them were done “live,” like the track I did with Elton who was actually the originator of the album. I'll tell you how it came about. I was listening to a live album of Elton's, and on it he says, "I wrote this song many years ago when I was a struggling artist, living in a small flat with my partner. We were waiting and hoping for an Engelbert Humperdinck to come along and make (one of my songs) a hit for us." That was a very flattering thing to hear, but unfortunately I was unaware of Elton at that particular time.
ESC: It must have been great to finally get a chance to record with him.
EH: Yes, I called him a few years ago and asked him to do this duet with me, and he agreed immediately. He's such a wonderful man. He came into the studio with me and of course once you've got Elton John, you've got the honeycomb. It was just so wonderful to have him in the studio. He's just an amazing talent and an amazing attraction. So t really helped me with my album. We didn't actually record right way, but talked for a couple of hours about old times, because we more or less started out around the same time.
ESC: What do you remember most about the time when you were also a struggling new artist?
EH: I used to go to a place in London called Tin Pan Alley where all of the music publishers were. Me and a lot of the other struggling artists would wind up in a coffee bar across the road. We were all looking for songs that might help you get a career, or at least a recording contract. Groups like The Moody Blues would also be there, but their career took off much sooner than mine.
ESC: Were there any other singers who recorded “live” with you for the album?
EH: To my surprise, the great Gene Simmons from KISS came in to record with me. He was truly an exciting person to have in the studio, believe me. You know, I'm six-one, but he's about three inches taller than me, just a giant of a man with a great sense of humor, and just brought a great deal of pizzazz to the recording.
ESC: On the album you also have Cliff Richard, who must have been a major hero of yours, growing up in England.
EH: Well yeah, the funny thing is, Cliff was a major star in the '50s at the same time when Elvis came in. Cliff has probably had more number one hit singles than anyone else in the world. I used to be an opening act for Cliff and now all of these years later, he agreed to be on a duet with me. So that was quite a thrill for me. He still looks great. He's like the Peter Pan of the industry.
ESC: I'm sure one artist you would have loved to have had on your album, would be Elvis Presley, who was also a fan of yours. What memories do you have of Elvis?
EH: I first met Elvis around 1972, and we hit if off immediately. When I saw his long sideburns, I said, "Elvis, those are mine." (Laughs.) I brought the long sideburn look to this country and around the world in fact, but getting back to Elvis, meeting him was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. We talked about our careers, and I said, "You know, Elvis, I've got a lot of your albums. I listen to you a lot, and I've learned a lot from listening to you." He said, "Well, I've got all your albums, 'cause I've recorded some of your songs, too." Therefore it was a mutual sort of feeling of getting together...what they call a mutual admiration society.
ESC: Did you meet him other times, or just that once?
EH: No, no, quite a few times. Actually, I last saw him just three months before he passed, and he really looked bad then, but you know I wish I was close enough to him to have said, "Elvis, what are you doing to yourself?" However for man of that stature, it was difficult for me, who'd only been successful for a little while compared to him, to say that, but now I wish I had.
ESC: Did you have any premonition at the time that he looked like he wasn't going to be alive much longer unless he got some professional help?
EH: You know, I never ever thought, "He's not going to be around much longer," but I did think he looked pretty poorly, compared to when I first met him. He looked very bloated and was sweating a lot. It looked dangerously … dangerous at that moment. When I think about it now, I wish somebody had locked him up somewhere, like on a desert island where he couldn’t get a hold of the (drugs) that were killing him. Let him stay there for a year, get clean, and then come back. It was really a very sad loss, knowing that this man who had been a such a rock to the industry, had to disappear so quickly, but up to his very last shows, his voice was still unbelievable. Even in his sad condition, he was still hitting some big, big, notes, and was putting his heart and soul into his performance.
ESC: You and Elvis were born just one year apart, yet Elvis is gone 38 years now. What do you credit most for your surviving the madness that goes with massive fame that Elvis couldn't? Your long-time marriage, Christian faith....
EH: I have to first be honest with you. I'm not really a "Goody-Two-Shoes," as far as my lifestyle is concerned. I love a good drink, and in the early years, I drank a little too much, but I've learned how to cope. I know when I've had enough … when to stop. I've never been into drugs, which really is good, and that's helped keep me healthy and well … able to cope with the work that I do around the world, about 90 concerts a year now.
ESC: What do you credit for your 51-year marriage, which is almost unheard of in show business terms?
EH: I know it is, but I met Patricia in 1956, when she was 17, and I had just come out of the British Army. We've been together ever since, and I think it all comes down to one word which is used in songs all over the world all the time, and it's the word called love. I do love her, and we've been happy all these many years.
ESC: In 1967, you were sharing a bill with Jimi Hendrix, which seems such an unlikely musical pairing. Were you opening for him, or was it the other way around?
EH: No, he was opening for me. I'll tell you why that happened; they were just introducing Jimi to Europe. So, what they did was to put him on a bill with someone like me who was already well-known in England, to give him some publicity. Not that he needed it, because he was really already becoming a star in his own right.
ESC: Didn't he also play guitar for you from backstage, on one show when your guitarist didn't show up?
EH: Yes, he came up to me and said, "Don't worry, man. I'll play for you." I mean to have Jimi Hendrix play for me.. I just wish that someone was there to record or film it. What a nice man he was. You know, he wore those old army-type of jackets. So, one day on the tour I said, "Jimi, that's a lovely jacket." He said, "Do you want it? I'll give it to you?" I said, "No. I didn't mention it for that reason." (Laughs.) He really had a big heart.
ESC: Being that you lived in England during the '60s when there was such an explosion of great rock groups, did you have any interaction with any of the Beatles or Rolling Stones?
EH: No, I'm afraid not. Mind you, the Beatles and myself and Cliff all lived in the same area in London, a place called Georgia Hill, within about a half mile radius of each other, and we'd just see each other going in the main gates in our back-windowed cars, usually Roll Royces. It was just fun living so close to greats like them at that particular time.
ESC: You've had some pretty rabid female fans over the years. What's the wildest experience you've had with someone who was obsessed to meet you?
EH: Oh, gosh, there've been so many instances. Mostly you'd find strange women in your hotel rooms. They'd pay the people who worked there, or else they'd wait till somebody making up your room would go out for moment to get something, and then they'd sneak in and hide. That used to happen to me a lot in the early days. When you'd check in, you'd get a shock seeing a strange face in your room, when you opened it.
ESC: After more than a half century of singing, on your recent shows critics are still praising how remarkable your voice sounds. To what do you attribute keeping your voice in such great shape?
EH: I don't know. I just think I've been very fortunate because as you get older, your vibrato slows down and you lose your range, but when you see me live, you'll know that mine hasn't ... .well, maybe a half step, but my vibrato hasn't slowed down. The longer you live, the more experience you get, and you learn what you have to do to stay in the limelight. So, therefore, to stay relevant in today's world, I don't sing exactly like I used to. I'm singing a little different now ... a more commercial, contemporary way.
ESC: Could you have possibly imagined 50 years ago that, at 79 you'd still be a major headliner?
EH: No, never. When you grow up you have your dreams. I was hoping to be a star, but I never dreamed my career would turn out like this. I just thought that England would be the extent of my work, but I've traveled around the world several times and been in practically every country. I know how to say "Good Evening" in every language by the way. (Laughs.)
ESC: You've made some great hit records over the years but, would you agree probably the most unusual one was "Lesbian Seagull." How did that come about?
EH: Well, (in 1996) the producers of the film "Beavis and Butthead Come To America" came to see my show at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles. They told me afterward that they enjoyed my performance and sense of humor and asked if I'd sing a song for their movie. They sent me the sheet music. I thought the melody and lyrics were great. It shows that all species have choices, and we have to respect that. I recorded the song, and it went platinum. So, what can you say about that ? It has it's moment.
ESC: Tom Jones, Cliff Richard and other British contemporaries of yours have already been knighted by the Queen. When are we going to see Sir Engelbert Humperdinck added to that list?
EH: I'm just waiting for the Queen to recognize me in that vein. As I mentioned, I served in the British Army, which they didn't. I don't know what the procedure is for getting knighted. I can wait. I'm not in a hurry, but of course I would be thrilled if it did happen.
ESC: Maybe your many fans can start a Facebook campaign that the Queen might hear about.
EH: Maybe. (Laughs.)
ESC: You've had a great singing career, but do you still have any unfulfilled aspirations, like acting in films?
EH: You know, when I first started my career, I did have aspirations to be an actor as well. Little did I know, after I became popular, my manager at the time was getting scripts from Hollywood without telling me, because movies would have taken away my time from the major tours that were bringing in a lot of money. So, that put an end to my acting career.
ESC: But you're obviously now in a position to try acting, or do whatever you want?
EH: I think it's a little late now for me to try to be an actor. I enjoy what I'm doing right now. Things haven't waned in that direction. So, I want to keep going until God calls me.
October 5, 2015 by Elliott Cohen for Examiner.com
Engelbert Humperdinck Recording Country Album
Lauren Wilde is back producing for Engelbert Humperdinck on what is expected to be a country album from the music legend.
Wilde has previous produced Rod Stewart (American Songbook series), Carly Simon (Moonlight Serenade) and Art Garfunkel (Some Enchanted Evening). He previously worked with Engelbert on ‘Engelbert Calling’ (2014) as vocal producer as well as his 2007 release ‘The Winding Road’.
Engelbert’s country roots can be traced back to his very first hit ‘Release Me’ in 1967. The song was 21 years old by the time Engelbert got hold of it and made it his own.
Eddie Miller wrote ‘Release Me’ in 1946. Miller could not find anyone to record the song so he recorded it himself in 1947.
In 1954 the song was recorded by Ray Price. While not his first record, it became his breakthrough record reached no 6 in the USA.
Engelbert Humperdinck recorded ‘Release Me’ in 1967. It reached no 1 on the UK charts and stopped The Beatles ‘Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever’ from topping the British charts for the first time since 1963.
Engelbert Humperdinck dates
October 25, Perth, Crown Theatre
October 29, Melbourne, Palais Theatre
October 30, Sydney, The State Theatre
November 2, Gold Coast, Jupiters Hotel & Casino
by PAUL CASHMERE on SEPTEMBER 21, 2015