Friday, April 17, 2015

Engelbert Humperdinck Interview: 'The Internationally Renowned Singer Perpetually Astounds'

Engelbert with Elton John and Gene Simmons of KISS
By Ray Shasho
-Interviewed February 5th 2015

British entertainer Arnold George Dorsey (stage name Gerry Dorsey) had limited success as a singer, but in 1967 Engelbert Humperdinck became an overnight sensation and a household name worldwide. Humperdinck recorded one of the best-selling singles of all-time; a number-one hit song entitled “Release Me,” which thwarted The Beatles efforts of reaching the top of the charts with their double A-sided record, “Strawberry Fields Forever /Penny Lane.” “Release Me” held the number-one slot on the UK Pop charts for six weeks and remained on the charts for a record fifty-six consecutive weeks, selling 80,000 copies a day. Humperdinck superseded the success of “Release Me” with “There Goes My Everything” and “The Last Waltz,”sweeping the Top 40 Pop charts that same year.
Engelbert’s charisma, good looks and magnificent vocals mirrored performers such as Elvis Presley and Tom Jones, and it quickly became evident that a new singing sensation had conquered and charmed the music world. Humperdinck’s sex appeal captivated a huge female fanbase which became known as the Humperdinckers, and throughout the 70’s, Humperdinck sustained the hits on the Top 40 airwaves …

Engelbert Humperdinck’s albums released throughout the 60’s and 70’s …

(1967) Release Me, The Last Waltz, (1968) Man Without Love,(1969) Engelbert, Engelbert Humperdinck, (1970) We Made It Happen,(1971)Sweetheart, Another Time, Another Place,(1972) Live At The Riviera, Las Vegas, In Time, (1973) Engelbert King of Hearts, My Love,(1974) Engelbert Humperdinck His Greatest Hits, The World of Engelbert Humperdinck,(1976) After The Lovin, (1977)Miracles, Christmas Tyme, Engelbert Sings For You, A Time For Us,(1978) Last Of The Romantics, Love Letters,(1979) This Moment In Time, 
Engelbert Sings the Hits.

Humperdinck relentlessly toured the world in front of adoring sold-out audiences and became a hot commodity and mainstay attraction on the Las Vegas and Atlantic City Strips. When he wasn’t on the road, he’d be in the recording studio generating the hits. His last major Pop hit on the Top 40 charts came in 1976 with the brilliant and graceful “After The Lovin’” composed by Ritchie Adams and written by Alan Bernstein. In 1979, Humperdinck spawned his fourth number-one hit on the Easy Listening charts in the U.S. with yet another Adams/ Bernstein composition entitled “This Moment In Time.” In 1983, Engelbert released his last charted single“Til You and Your Lover Are Lovers Again.”

In 1999, Humperdinck released The Dance Album which featured newly recorded dance versions of six of Engelbert's greatest hits, along with five original songs. The album landed in the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance charts.

Most Recently: Engelbert Humperdinck released his highly anticipated and critically-acclaimed double-CD entitled… “Engelbert Calling” which features incredible duets with some of the world’s most recognized names in music … including Elton John, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, Gene Simmons, and many-more. The album is released by OK! Good Records, and  produced by Grammy Award-winner Martin Terefe, who is well-known for his work with Jason Mraz, James Morrison, KT Tunstall, and Mary J Blige. 
… I gave “Engelbert Calling” by Engelbert Humperdinck (5) Stars!

Engelbert Humperdinck’s career has spanned nearly five decades. He’s sold more than 150- million albums world-wide, including 24 certified with platinum status and 63 with gold, four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe for “Entertainer of the Year” (1988), and earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Engelbert has solidified his name as an international Pop legend and has established himself as one of the world’s most influential artists.

At 78, Humperdinck continues to tour the world and record in the studio, and like a fine wine, he just keeps getting better. Engelbert is happily married to Patricia, his wife of 50 years. The couple has 4 children and 9 grandchildren. He’s managed by his son Scott Dorsey/Dorsey Productions.

I had the wonderful pleasure of chatting with one of my favorite singers about his critically-acclaimed release … ‘Engelbert Calling’ …Engelbert’s follow-up release upcoming ... The current world tour …The early days… ‘The Humperdinckers’ … Befriending ‘Elvis’ …And Much-Much More!
Here’s my interview with internationally renowned singer, songwriter, entertainer, a true gentleman and nice guy...
ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK.

Ray Shasho: Engelbert, thank you so much for being on the call today, how’s the tour coming along?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “It’s going great; I’ve only done about ten concerts so far this year, but it’s going wonderful. I start again next week, the people are loving what I’m giving them and I’m very happy about that, I keep changing the show as I go along. But the actual show has been tried and tested in every country around the world, all my standards I’ve chosen that people want to hear, I keep them in the show. And of course now I’ve got a new album out ‘Engelbert Calling’ which I sing four songs from that particular album.”
Ray Shasho: I heard you are going to do a follow-up album to ‘Engelbert Calling’ entitled ‘Redialed,’ is that a working title or will it actually be used for the next album? 
Engelbert Humperdinck: “No, that’s what we said, so that’s what it will be. It’s an obvious title really.”
Ray Shasho: I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Engelbert Calling,’ but I always pick favorites, and I have to say “I Need You Now” with Lulu and “After the Lovin'” with Beverley Knight were my absolute favorite tracks.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Thank you! I love singing with them all, Wynonna Judd was great with my big song (“Release Me”) and she did a great job with that. I didn’t get to go in the studio with her but I did speak on the phone with her and we actually rehearsed online from my house. So yea, it was amazing. And she was just delighted to do the number. She said I just might put this out as a single, and of course I said oh great!”
Ray Shasho: Engelbert was there a certain process for selecting these particular artists for the album?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “My son Scott is managing me and he has a good idea of what people expect out of me as an artist. There’s a contemporary song on the album written by Dan Wilson, Martin Terefe and James Morrison called “Real Love,” and Shelby Lynne did a great job on that one. I also know a lot of these people; Neil Sedaka’s “The Hungry Years” has always been a massive favorite of mine because I think it’s one of the best songs he’s ever written. Many years ago after my After The Lovin’ album, I recorded it and rereleased it with Neil singing with me on it, and just a marvelous piece for posterity.”
Ray Shasho: I noticed several of your duets were with some of the artists that shared billboard rankings with you in 1967 … for instance Lulu and Dionne Warwick.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “In 1967, Lulu was on a show called ‘Juke Box Jury’ and was part of a panel of four. And she was the only one that voted “Release Me” a hit. So I thought to myself, one of these days, I’ll have to have her sing with me on an album, and here was my opportunity. So she was the only one that was right that it would become a hit, and it did become a hit all around the world (All laughing).”
Ray Shasho: The most surprising duet on the album has to be the one you did with Gene Simmons of KISS, he must be a big fan of yours.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “I love him to death! It was really something special. He took the trouble of coming to the studio, instead of saying, send it to my home and I’ll complete it at my studio. He never did that. He said I’ll come and do it with you. He came in and was so humorous and pleasing, not only is he a great businessman but has a great personality and persona. He was good to me and promoted my album in many ways, on his website, and I’m really grateful to him. He’s a wonderful man. He came to see me in concert right after.”  
Ray Shasho: You and Gene picked a great song to sing too, “Spinning Wheel” which was written by David Clayton-Thomas and became a huge hit for Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Engelbert Humperdinck: Gene said to me, just relax, enjoy it and have fun with it, and that’s what we did. And I think that’s what comes out in the album. He’s a lot of fun; I can still see that smile on his face.” 
Ray Shasho: Your first single … "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" in 1958 as Gerry Dorsey, was a great tune, why didn’t it do very well?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Actually my first single was called “Mr. Music Man.” I really think I wanted to be known as Mr. Music Man, but that wasn’t a hit either, and the great Johnnie Ray wrote that song for me. So “Mr. Music Man” and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" were not hits, I had to wait till I changed my name until I had a hit.”
Ray Shasho: Then in 1967 you dominated the airwaves! I remember everyone talking about a new charismatic singer with a terrific voice and funny name.
Engelbert Humperdinck:  “I had number one, two, and three on the charts. “Release Me” was the only song that knocked The Beatles out of the #1 slot from on top of the UK record charts. It was the biggest single that I ever had and sold millions.”
Ray Shasho:  Engelbert you’ve also written some of your own material through the years? 
Engelbert Humperdinck:  “I’ve written a lot of songs that I have recorded too. I wrote one that was a #4 hit for Tom Jones in the early years called “This and That,” and a matter of fact; I put that song back in my show and do it myself now.”
Ray Shasho: “When did you first meet Tom Jones?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “I met him before he became a star.  He was a friend of a friend who lived in Wales. He brought Jones to London and introduced him to my friend Gordon Mills who wasn’t my manager then. He became manager to Tom Jones and to me. And that’s how the meeting began. Of course we were in a company together at one time back in the early days, there was Gilbert O’Sullivan, Tom Jones, Gordon Mills and myself, and we had this massive company that was very successful. Gordon Mills passed away many years ago and I had to change managers quite a bit, but the one who I think is particularly doing the best job is my son Scott who is doing it right now. I haven’t talked with Tom Jones for about 28 years.”
Ray Shasho: It was Gordon Mills that was responsible for changing your name from Arnold George Dorsey to Engelbert Humperdinck?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “He gave me, Tom Jones, and Gilbert O’Sullivan our names. So he was responsible for the three of us changing our names.”
Ray Shasho: What was your initial reaction when Gordon Mills asked you to change your name to Engelbert Humperdinck?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “I thought it was a group, it was so great, I thought, where did they find this name? But it’s very recognizable and people love it.”
Ray Shasho: I understand that you couldn’t use the name Engelbert Humperdinck while performing in Germany, is that still true today?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “The name belonged to the German composer who wrote the opera ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and passed away in 1921, and his family objected to me having the name Humperdinck in Germany, so therefore I went under the name Engelbert. Now it’s all over and I can use the name Engelbert Humperdinck in Germany because the family has passed on.”
Ray Shasho: Frank Sinatra’s big hit “Strangers In The Night” was initially offered to you by composer Bert Kaempfert.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Strangers In The Night,”  “Spanish Eyes,” and “Wonderland by Night.” I went to Bert Kaempfert’s house in Spain and he played it to me on the piano personally and sang the songs. I told him that I loved those songs. So I brought them back to London and recorded all three, and then Gordon said you can’t have “Strangers In The Night.”  I said why not, it’s a number-one song … I promise you. He said you can’t have it, Sinatra wants it. I think there was a large money figure involved so that’s why he gave it to him. That’s show business … managers, agents … where the dollars are, they go.”
Ray Shasho:  There’s no doubt in my mind that you would have nailed that song!
Engelbert Humperdinck: “You should have heard my version, it was amazing! I’ve been looking for that version on Decca Records because I recorded it, and then suddenly it’s buried somewhere and I cannot find it again. But it was an incredible version, and I know it would have been number-one.”
Ray Shasho: Were you inspired to become a singer by listening to anyone in particular?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “When I first started in the industry, I wasn’t going to be a singer Ray; I wanted to become a musician, so I really didn’t listen to too many people or tried to get inspired by them because I wanted to become a Sax player. Eventually when I did start singing, I think Nat King Cole was one of my favorites. When I was eighteen years old I went into the service and was shipped to the same place with someone who I befriended later in life, and that was Elvis Presley. Elvis was shipped to Germany and I was in Germany at the same time. I used to play his songs on the jukebox in the canteen and little did I know that I would become friends with him. I did love the way he performed and saw him work onstage, I admired and learned so much from this master. He had humility and charm and he never took himself seriously onstage, his image, and I learned all this from him. Because there are a lot of people who seem to think they’re the cats whiskers when they walk onstage, and he and his giant image didn’t show that at all. He was just a great guy and I learned from him a lot. But I told him the story about being in the army at the same time … he was a big star and I was a nobody! (All laughing) Elvis was a marvelous man.”
Ray Shasho: I heard somewhere … Elvis felt that if his twin brother(Jesse Garon) had survived, he would have looked much like you, and that’s one of the reasons he liked you so much.   
Engelbert Humperdinck: “There was a guy that did a story on him and went over and asked people who were closest with Elvis and whom he admired in the industry, and he said he liked me because I reminded him of the twin brother he lost at birth. He considered me the twin brother he lost at birth. I thought what a great complement.”
Ray Shasho: You guys did look alike with those muttonchops.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Yea, well I started it you know. (All laughing) I brought it to America and people like Johnny Carson and Bob Hope used to make comments like … Engelbert always looks like he’s on the phone … because my muttonchops were so thick. (All laughing)”
Ray Shasho: Engelbert, you must have some great stories about frenzied female fans.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “There are many of those, fans used to get jobs in hotels so they could bring room service to my room, (Laughing) that’s the type of thing that used to happen to me in the early days. I even used to find people in my room when I got there. It was amazing; they were hiding in cupboards and things like that. They would bribe the staff and got in somehow. People have also camped outside my house in their cars and would sit out there for days and days.”
Ray Shasho:  “Was your wife Patricia jealous about your diehard women fans called the Humperdinckers?”
Engelbert Humperdinck: “There was a little bit of jealousy, which I think was sort of natural when you see your husband surrounded by lovely ladies, kissing you all over the place, putting lipstick on you, writing love messages, throwing keys and bouquets of flowers onstage with all kinds of risqué messages … I should imagine that it would lend itself to a little bit of jealousy, but she overcame all that. And here I am still going strong and still getting the messages and bouquets of flowers when I go onstage.”
Ray Shasho: Engelbert, you have been married to Patricia Dorsey for over 50 years, that alone is a tremendous feat.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “It is a tremendous feat. People always ask me what’s my favorite song, and besides “Release Me,” I have to say that Nat King Coles’ “When I Fall in Love” is my favorite song. That was the first single that I did for my girlfriend, the girl I was dating, who happens to me my wife right now.”
Ray Shasho: “So what is the secret to a long and happy marriage?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Patricia has been the backbone of my career because she’s stood by me under certain circumstances, mistakes are made and I made a few, she forgave me for those and we still love each other very much and I hope it goes on forever.”
Ray Shasho: “When I was working in broadcasting as a deejay in 1979, I loved playing “This Moment in Time” (#1 hit in 1979) over the airwaves.
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Here’s the story about “This Moment in Time.” It was written by two gentlemen, Richard Adams and Alan Bernstein, and they also wrote “After the Lovin.’” Alan Bernstein was in the hospital and he had cancer. He wrote the lyrics to “This Moment in Time” while he was in the hospital and you can hear what he is trying to say … “I know the sun is gonna shine … because of you and me … there’ll be this moment in time.” It’s an amazing and heartrending lyric to someone who knows the story. I visited him in the hospital; a very talented writer had left this world.”
Ray Shasho:  The ‘Peace Collective’ is an all-star group of music artists that banned together to record a single and music video to mark the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Day truce in the trenches (1914) …  To quote Simon Britton, “A spontaneous act of humanity that transcended the horrors and barbarity of World War One. It is a story of hope and peace which should be told over and over again.” The single was released on December 15th 2014, and all profits from the song go to the British Red Cross and the Shorncliffe Trust. Engelbert talk about being a member of the ‘Peace Collective.’
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Isn’t that something? I was asked by Simon Britton who is the producer … he was actually coming to LA to see my show and he asked me to do it. There were so many great artists participating. 100 years ago on December 24th, during the First World War, there was peace for one day. The Germans were singing “Silent Night” in their trenches and the Brits were singing “Silent Night” in their trenches, and all of a sudden they both put their hands up and they all came out and shook hands. They greeted each other, exchanged presents, sang together, and played football (soccer) together. Afterwards, they both went back into their trenches and went back to war again. It sort of tells you something… that we really don’t want to kill each other, it’s all political."  
"But that’s what inspired the song written by Peter Hooton (The Farm) which was a hit (“All Together Now”) in 1990. “The re-released single features an all-star cast including …Suggs, Mick Jones, David Gray, Julian Lennon, The Proclaimers, members of The Farm, Gabrielle, Jah Wobble, Leo Sayer, John Power, Suzi Quatro, Holly Johnson, and my amazing daughter Louise was on it.”
Ray Shasho: Here’s a question that I ask everyone that I interview. If you had a ‘Field of Dreams’ wish like the movie, to sing or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be?
Engelbert Humperdinck: “It would have to be the people that I’ve admired …Nat King Cole, Elvis … if Elvis was alive today, he would’ve been on my album. The sideburns would have been together… we would have been bookends. (All laughing)”
Ray Shasho:  You’re selling a line of jewelry?  (Released on Valentine’s Day) Available at www.ehcalling.com
Engelbert Humperdinck: “It’s a musical note called the harmony pendant and sold through the Zalemark Holding Company. Soon other pieces will be publicized and promoted on television. I’m a hands-on person and designed all the jewelry myself. I’m hoping people will enjoy my jewelry. Since this album, people have been getting in touch with me to promote clothing lines, beer, wine, and all kinds of things, so I’ll be endorsing a lot of products in the near future.”
Ray Shasho: Engelbert, thank you so much for being on the call today and for all the incredible music you’ve given us and continue to bring!
Engelbert Humperdinck: “Ray, happy anniversary to you and Sharon, God bless you, stay well, and keep that marriage together!”


Purchase Engelbert’s Jewelry at www.ehcalling.com  -Iconic jewelry to celebrate the release of Engelbert Humperdinck's latest album. The collection consists of three main pieces, including a pendant, lapel pin and necklaces. All pieces are available in a variety of styles made of silver, white or yellow gold, as well as a variety of stones from sapphires to diamonds.

Very Special thanks to Jessica Seggman of Miller PR

Purchase Engelbert Humperdinck’s highly anticipated and critically-acclaimed double-CD entitled… “Engelbert Calling” 
featuring duets with some of the world’s most recognized names in music, including Elton John, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, Gene Simmons, and many-more. 
The album is released by OK! Good Records, and produced by Grammy Award-winner Martin Terefe, who is well-known for his work with Jason Mraz, James Morrison, KT Tunstall, and Mary J Blige.
Available NOW on amazon.com  
…  (5) Stars all the way!
ENGELBERT CALLING’
 Track Listing …
CD1
“Something About The Way You Look Tonight” with Elton John
“Since I Lost My Baby” with Cliff Richard
“Never Never Never” with Olivia Newton-John
“Spanish Eyes” with Il Divo
“Make You Feel My Love” with Willie Nelson
“Spinning Wheel” with Gene Simmons
“I Need You Now” with Lulu
“You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” with Smokey Robinson
“Real Love” with Shelby Lynne
“She Believes In Me” with Kenny Rogers
“Better” with Louise Dorsey
CD2
“Ain’t That Peculiar” with Andrea Corr
“A Certain Smile” with Johnny Mathis
“Kiss Me Honey” with Tini
“The Hungry Years” with Neil Sedaka
“It Matters To Me” with Dionne Warwick
“She” with Charles Aznavour
“Release Me” with Wynonna Judd
“It’s Impossible/Somos Novios” with Armando Manzanero
“Quien Te Dijo Eso” with Luis Fonsi
“After The Lovin’” with Beverley Knight
“Something To Hold On To:” with Ron Sexsmith
“Father And Son” with Bradley Dorsey

COMING UP NEXT
David Clayton-Thomas the legendary voice
of ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears.’

Contact music journalist Ray Shasho at rockraymond.shasho@gmail.com

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