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Please release me from my grief: Consumed with sorrow since his wife of 56 years died, Engelbert Humperdinck reveals how a new album and an unlikely renaissance have given him fresh will to live

May 20, 2023

  • British pop legend Engelbert Humperdinck lost his wife Patricia in February 2021


PUBLISHED: 17:31 EDT, 19 May 2023 | UPDATED: 17:31 EDT, 19 May 2023


He's the four-time Grammy-nominated legend who has had thousands of shirts ripped off his back and countless G-strings thrown at him on stage. 

Now Engelbert Humperdinck, the star with the most preposterous name in pop, is desperate to brave his army of adoring fans once again as he goes on tour in the hope of assuaging his grief after Patricia, his beloved wife of 56 years, died in February 2021.

'I'll be honest with you, I'm lonely,' says Engelbert, whose latest album was released on his 87th birthday earlier this month. 

'The only thing I want to do is get back on the road and sing. I want to work as much as I possibly can because I love getting the love from my fans. It gives me the will to live.'

Patricia, who suffered from Alzheimer's for over a decade before she died, was his rock and his soulmate until she succumbed to a cardiac arrest after overcoming Covid. 'You don't realise what you've lost until it's gone,' he says. 

'After losing Patricia I've felt so vulnerable and raw. Your whole thinking changes, your heart changes, your whole world changes. You read lyrics differently. Everything becomes more vivid in your mind and you can portray them in a more sensitive way.

'So in the show I dedicate a song called Everywhere I Go to her that I wrote about 30 years ago, saying I didn't realise a lyric could be so poignant at this point in my life. Although I wrote it so long ago I've put it back in my show because I've dedicated it to my darling, and people love it.'

The new album, called All About Love, is his unique take on some of the greatest love songs of all time, beginning with his first single in a few years – a fresh take on Barry White's 1974 chart-topper You're The First, The Last, My Everything.

Indeed Engelbert, or Enge as he's fondly known, is enjoying a bit of a renaissance right now, with a newly recorded version of West Ham United's football anthem I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles featuring in Brad Pitt's movie Bullet Train, his 1968 hit A Man Without Love going viral with 15.9 million streams on Spotify after appearing in Disney+ superhero drama Moon Knight, and Netflix's comedy fantasy The Umbrella Academy playing Quando, Quando, Quando during a fight scene.

'When I walk on stage even now, the reaction I get is amazing – they still scream,' he beams. 'I've also noticed that younger people have started to discover who Engelbert Humperdinck is, so I see a lot of new faces in the front row. I'll never retire. I just want to keep doing what I do because I love showbusiness.'

It was a chance meeting that led to the love story that spanned 65 years when he and Patricia crossed paths in 1956 at Leicester's Palais De Danse nightclub when she was 17 and he was 20. Back then, Enge went by his plain old birth name of Arnold Dorsey and was fighting to make a name for himself as a singer. 

He was so broke that he refused to marry Patricia until 1964, when he'd made enough money to provide for her and the four children – Louise, Jason, Brad and Scott – that followed.

It was Patricia who bought him a new pair of shoes when she heard that the Isle of Man was hosting a talent contest, and off they went to try his luck. He won the £75 prize and a free holiday. 

'She was so good to me and she made me feel so good,' he recalls wistfully. 'She stood by me all those years. That competition was a great experience. I sang Your Eyes Are The Eyes Of A Woman In Love and I won it. I knew then what I wanted to do.'

But it was a struggle in the early days. Enge was so strapped for cash he ended up sleeping on railway station benches or in freezing cold telephone boxes, unscrewing the light bulb so that passers-by wouldn't see him shivering inside. 'It was a hard life, but I think you learn from the hard knocks. 

One of the worst places I ever slept was a public convenience. When you put a penny in the slot you could stay in there as long as you liked,' he laughs. 'But Patricia stood by me even when I got tuberculosis in 1961, which was life-threatening. I spent six months on my back in hospital, and when I tried to get back into the business I was turned down by so many people.'

It was that brush with death that persuaded him to team up with Tom Jones's manager Gordon Mills, who suggested he change his name from Arnold Dorsey to Engelbert Humperdinck, borrowed from the 19th-century German composer of the same name. In 1967 Enge had his first Number One with Release Me. 

'It happened when I was asked to stand in at the last minute for my friend Dickie Valentine on Sunday Night At The London Palladium and I performed Release Me,' he says. 'It was a turning point I'm truly grateful for. It brought the song to such a huge audience and it spent 56 weeks in the top 50. It even stopped The Beatles from having their 13th Number One.'

He and Patricia were able to move from a tiny flat to a luxurious home in Surrey where John Lennon was a neighbour, before making the move to California. They then brought up their family between their LA mansion and their home in his native Leicester (the late Queen, who he sang for four times, used to call him Leicester Boy), complete with its own pub and a red telephone box.

At his peak he'd have to travel with 150 shirts as frenzied women would tear them off his back every night and throw their underwear at him, but these days he's more muted about that heady time. 'It was a phase and it never used to upset me, it was quite a compliment,' he says.

What hasn't changed is Enge's lustrous locks. 'I've been grey since I was 25, so I decided to colour it to avoid looking old. But at least I've still got hair to colour,' he laughs. 'And I've still got my sideburns too, after starting the fashion in the 60s. Everyone had them – The Beatles and my friend Elvis. I said to him, 'You stole my sideburns!' And he said, 'If it looks good on you then it's going to look good on me!'

Patricia loved sitting behind that 'glorious head of hair' when she rode pillion on his motorbike, and he still rides his Harley-Davidson around the Hollywood Hills. He's pleased to have been able to be by her side for her last years, just as she had been by his. 

After the Alzheimer's diagnosis he tried every kind of treatment, from stem cells to electroacupuncture, and she seemed to be making an astonishing recovery, saying his name again after being unable to speak for three years. 'I really thought she'd come out of it,' he says. 'Then along came the pandemic, which weakened her.'

But Patricia was far from weak. In his 2004 autobiography she confidently wrote her own chapter, which addressed his affairs and what she called 'enough paternity suits to wallpaper a bedroom'. 

She described how, far from being the long-suffering wife, she was not only robust but also took strength from dealing with these situations and encouraging Enge to tell the truth. 'Men are so different and sex doesn't always mean there's any love attached,' she wrote. 

'Men need it. That's why I didn't give two hoots about it, as long as it was sexual. But when it becomes a relationship that's when it becomes hurtful. I always said to myself, if ever he bought a flat or a home for someone then that would be it, because I would know then that the person meant a lot to him.'

Enge only read his wife's chapter after the book was published, and today he says, 'It was hard to read. I haven't read it for a while, but it is important so I think I'll read it again. My wife shot from the hip and told it like it is. I never met anybody as honest and straightforward as her. That's what I loved about her. She didn't pull any punches.

'I was so proud of her for writing that, and it was a release valve for me too. I needed to say a few things. As a matter of fact, I do have more to say, so maybe I'll write another. But for now Patricia would want me to just keep carrying on with the show, because there's no business like showbusiness. I just love it.'

  • Engelbert's new album All About Love is out now.




All About LoveAll About Love
You’re The First, The Last, My EverythingYou’re The First, The Last, My Everything
Warmest Christmas WishesWarmest Christmas Wishes
The Man I Want to Be The Man I Want to Be
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