Engelbert Humperdinck’s Exclusive Interview With The Jerusalem Post
“When you find a nice place to work and you get a good reception, you always want to come back.” That’s how 81-year-old Engelbert Humperdinck explains his third round of sold-out shows in Israel in the past six years. When most of us are lucky to get out of bed in the morning, Humperdinck is still traveling around the world and crooning his extensive collection of pop and ballad standards on a regular basis. Below you can read Humperdinck’s exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Born Arnold George Dorsey in India to a British military officer and a music-teaching mother, Humperdinck resettled in Leicester, England, when he was 10, and began studying the saxophone. As a teen he entered a singing contest in a local pub, and discovering a new talent, put down his sax forever. Renamed Gerry Dorsey, the young singer was making a name for himself throughout the UK in the early 1960s until coming down with tuberculosis, which sidelined him for the better part of a year. When he was healthy, he took on a new manager, Gordon Mills, who had some interesting ideas.
“When I first started singing, I didn’t know which direction to take – I sang rock & roll and all kinds of things. When Gordon came along, he started listening to songs for me to record and he directed me toward becoming a ballad singer and really stamped my style,” said Humperdinck in an earlier interview with The Jerusalem Post conducted before his 2011 shows.
“When Gordon first suggested it, I thought he was talking about forming a group with that name,” said Humperdinck, referring to the psychedelic rock band names of the day, like Strawberry Alarm Clock and Pink Floyd. “I was a little taken aback when he said he wanted that name for me, but what can a starving singer do? I accepted it. You can’t bite the hand that feeds you.” With an outlandish name, striking muttonchop sideburns and matinee-idol looks, it didn’t take long for the new Humperdinck persona to make an impact.
“Release Me” was so big that it prevented the momentous double-sided hit by The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” from reaching the number one slot in the UK. Engelbert Humperdinck was suddenly a star on both sides of the Atlantic.
He even found himself with Jimi Hendrix in his band – for one night. “Jimi hadn’t toured Europe yet, and they wanted to pair him with a name artist, so they put him on a bill with me,” said Humperdinck. “This was in Leicester, my home town. And my guitarist got sick and couldn’t play. ‘What am I going to do?’ I said, and Jimi answered, ‘don’t worry man, I’ll play for you.’” “I wish that show had been recorded. Having him behind me on guitar was like having three guitarists, he was that good.”
He told the Post last month that he’s encouraged that new generations of singers are keeping the musical tradition even as they add contemporary elements to the mix.
“There are some great singers in the market right now. I like Bruno Mars a lot, I think he’s great. And Ariana Grande as well – unfortunately the young lady had a mishap in my own country with that terrible tragedy in Manchester,” he said, referring to last month’s terrorist attack outside her show. “It’s such a shame that these things happen. The job of an artist is to entertain and not get involved with politics. We give the people in the countries we are visiting a good show – that’s the purpose of an entertainer.”
And that’s what audiences will receive when Humperdinck performs on June 17 at the Congress Center in Haifa, June 19 at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem and June 20 at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
For more visit: www.jpost.com
Engelbert Humperdinck’s duets album Engelbert Calling is available for purchase at music retailers nationwide and online from our webstore, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Bandcamp, and Spotify. Humperdinck’s limited edition vinyl, Duets EP, is available for purchase our web-store.
Find all upcoming Engelbert Humperdinck tour dates at: https://www.engelbert.com/tour