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INTERVIEW: Engelbert Humperdinck on his continuing journey

October 06, 2021

October 6, 2021  John Soltes Hollywood SoapBox

Engelbert Humperdinck is a legend in the truest form of the word. He has been singing on stages, near and far, for more than 50 years, and he shows no signs of stopping. He is currently on tour in the United States and will stop at the State Theatre in Easton, Pennsylvania, Thursday, Oct. 7. At the concert, audience members can expect to hear some of the tunes that have made the British singer a global megastar — hits like “Release Me,” which charted for more than a year and beat out some of the Beatles tunes for the top spot.

Humperdinck, who has been honored as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), has had a difficult two years. He has been away from his fans and hasn’t stepped foot on a stage in 19 months, and he also lost his beloved wife recently. That means his current tour will be a time for reflection and nostalgia, and the lyrics to his well-known tunes, often centered on love and forgiveness, will have an extra meaning and sentiment this time around.

Recently Hollywood Soapbox spoke with the legendary singer about his life, his career and what the future holds. It’s hard to see how he can out do himself. He’s a man who has sold north of 140 million records, with 64 gold albums and 35 platinum albums to his name (taken together that’s one shy of 100). He is on the walks of fame in Hollywood, Las Vegas and his hometown of Leicester, England. He has entranced audiences around the world, and the Queen of England has been in that audience four times.

Here’s what he had to say …

On how’s he feeling returning to the stage after 19 months …

It’s 19 months since I’ve been on stage performing, and it’ll be nice to get back on the road again and do these things, to see fans and friends. It’s going to be good. I’m looking forward to it very much. … I think after 19 months of absence from the stage, there’s definitely a little bit of nervousness involved. I’ve never been off this long in my life. I’ve done world tours every year, and I’ve always performed every month of the year everywhere all the time. Since the pandemic, there’s been nothing, and it’s quite nerve-racking actually to know that I’m going to go back. It’s like starting all over again, but it’s exciting.

On how his voice stays strong …

I thank God for that. Everything seems to have come back now. I did have the virus, and it did affect my voice a little bit in the early months of the year. But it’s back, and it’s as strong as it was before now.

On his love for playing the hits songs, including “Release Me” …

The kind of songs that I sing are trialed and tested around the world, and I’ve found out the kind of songs that they want to hear or the type of songs they want to hear that I’ve recorded over the years. And these are the ones that I place in the show, plus the new material that I can introduce to them. It’s a tough job picking the songs out, but it works out in the long run.

On how “Release Me” took over the world …

I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard the melody, I felt as though it was a hit song. I said to my manager at the time, ‘This is definitely a hit song,’ but it sat on the shelf for three months without moving until I did a show called the Sunday Night at the London Palladium. And I gave it an airing to the millions of people in the United Kingdom. The very next day it sold like 80,000-90,000 a day, so it just goes to show that when you have something to sell, you really have to market it in the proper way. Being on a major show like that made it happen.

On his competition with the Beatles …

I did compete with them. When ‘Release Me’ came out, I was competing with the Beatles at the time. They just released ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields,’ and I had to compete with them. And they never got to #1 because I kept that position. [laughs] … It was on the charts for 56 weeks, but it was #1 for a number of weeks.

On his dreams coming true …

You’re just glad that they came true. Your wishes have come alive, and it took one song, which was finding that needle in the haystack. But I happened to be lucky enough to find it. It gave me a global career immediately, so that’s one of the reasons why I was able to come to America so quickly because it went to #1 over here. And then, of course, all my work was released around the world, and now I can travel anywhere in the world and everybody knows my song and also thanks to karaoke. [laughs]

On his love for Leicester ….

As a matter of fact, I’m going to go back and do a tour. My tour starts in America on Oct. 3, and I’m doing nine dates in America. And then I go to the UK, and I do 14 cities beginning on Oct. 31. I’ve never done a tour as big as that in a long, long time. It’s going to be exciting, and I’m playing my hometown. … I still got my house there. Yeah, I still have my house in Leicester, and I frequent it whenever I can. It’s a beautiful house that I will never get rid of. I love it very much because I spend my Christmas and New Year’s there. It’ll stay there until I give it to the children, my kids.

On his thoughts of the past and the future …

I have to think about the future. I am going to reflect on the past on this tour because it’s a nostalgic tour. It’s going to be hard because I did lose my wife recently. The lyrics of my songs are very sensitive, and it’s going to make a difference the way I read lyrics in the future. … I hope [the audience] takes away the fact that I have pleased them in every respect and that they will come back and see me again in the not-too-distant future.





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