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Still touring at 87, could this be Engelbert Humperdinck’s last waltz?

March 27, 2024

He’s calling his farewell tour The Last Waltz and at 87 that seems a fair call for the legendary Engelbert Humperdinck

Sean Sennett

Mar 26, 2024, updated Mar 26, 2024 In Queensland


Almost 60 ago Engelbert Humperdinck enjoyed the biggest hit of his career with a grand tearjerker of a ballad called Release Me.

In 1967 the song hit number one in 11 countries and spent 56 consecutive weeks on the UK charts. Now Humperdinck is embarking, at 87 years young, on The Last Waltz Farewell Tour, which is quickly selling out venues all over the country.


On a video call from his home in the US the singer still looks a million dollars. The American sunshine is a lifetime away from where he began his career in the working men’s clubs of Britain.

“I started off doing an engineering job,” Humperdinck recalls. “My Dad said, ‘You need a proper job’. That lasted a year and I said, ‘Dad, I can’t do this’. I started singing in a working men’s club. Everyone was having a pint of beer and then getting up to sing. I thought I’d have a go.

“When I’d finished I had people all around me asking me who my agent was. I was only 17. That gave me the courage to sing. If you can sing in a working men’s club and please them, you can please a crowd anywhere. They’re a tough mob. If they didn’t like you, they’d throw a pint over you.”

Humperdinck slogged it out for years in those clubs waiting for his big break. He wanted to emulate the great Nat King Cole, because he felt Cole “knew how to mould a ballad to suit his voice”. While waiting to find his own ballad, a shot at the big time almost didn’t happen.

On his manager’s advice he changed his name from Gerry Dorsey to Engelbert Humperdinck and eventually cut Release Me. The song appeared on Jukebox Jury and the panel voted a resounding “no” with regards to it being a hit.

“I thought it was a hit from the get-go,” he explains. “But after Jukebox Jury it sat on the shelf for about three months, and I was wondering if it was going to take off. It had some promotion prior to being released, but never something really big.

“That finally came with a television appearance on a program called Sunday Night at the London Palladium. A friend of mine, Dickie Valentine, got sick and I took his place at that particular show and the very next day it started selling 80,000 copies a day and then 90,000 copies a day. It went up to 127, 000 copies a day.”

Famously the song kept The Beatles juggernaut double A-side Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane off the top spot and led to a slew of hits for the singer that included The Last Waltz, There Goes My Everything and others.

Despite his reputation as a balladeer, Humperdinck had some serious rock’n’roll friends. Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page worked as a session guitarist on Release Me and Humperdinck also shared the bill on a tour with Jimi Hendrix. One night when Humperdinck’s  guitarist fell ill, Jimi stepped in.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry man, I’ll play for you’,” Humperdinck says, laughing at the thought. “I told him he couldn’t do that, he was a star. So he stood behind the curtain with his music laid out and played. It sounded like three guitars back there. He was a lovely person, he’d give you the coat off his back. In fact, I complimented him on his army tunic one day and he offered to give it to me!”

At the height of his fame Humperdinck counted Elvis Presley as a friend, and his stable mate Tom Jones as a sometimes friend and sometimes rival. It irked him when the manager Humperdinck shared with Jones, Gordon Mills, “didn’t show the same care for my career as he did for Jones or Gilbert O’Sullivan”.

Tom Jones was often given most of the good songs, or Mills threw film scripts pitched to Humperdinck in the bin without the singer seeing them as he wanted him in a studio rather than on set for six months.

It’s a frustration that continues to this day. Humperdinck recently discovered the mega-selling Gorillaz tried to get him on a song and were told “no” by Humperdinck’s management. The move led to Humperdinck finding new management. Still, there’s little that dampens the singer’s enthusiasm.

“What’s happened is in the past,” he says. “What’s gone is gone. I live in the now. I don’t regret anything that has gone bad … and I was taken for a lot of money.”

The singer is still keen to record new material and is working on a new album, the details of which are hush-hush.

“I’m working on a concept record,” he says. “It’s out of my comfort zone, but we’re working on it right now. By the time I get to Australia I’ll have part of it finished. I’m hoping the whole album will be finished in two or three months. It’s different. I can’t tell you too much.”

As for the tour, Humperdinck will keep singing for audiences as long as he is physically able.

“I really don’t know,” he muses. “We’ve called it The Last Waltz. People have their last tours and they tour it for five years. Cher’s been on her final tour for about six years. It’s important to keep a good mindset. With me it’s in the lap of the gods. How far it goes? We’ll see.”

Engelbert Humperdinck: The Last Waltz plays the QPAC Concert Hall, May 13 and 14.






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
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A Man Without LoveA Man Without Love
Last WaltzLast Waltz
Release MeRelease Me