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 East Midlands: Monday October 4, 2004


Engelbert Humperdinck in the studio
Engelbert still loves recording, but he really comes alive onstage

He's released a total of 256 CDs, LPs, videos and DVDs since the sixties. He divides his time between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and, not surprisingly, Leicestershire. This son of Leicester is no other than Engelbert Humperdinck.

His name demands a certain tongue control and his romantic hits have stood the test of time, over and over again. Now he's releasing his autobiography in October.

Engelbert Humperdinck was born Arnold George Dorsey and he grew up on Highfield Street in Leicester.

Some 60 years later, Engelbert is living the life he deserves.

From Arnold to Gerry to Engelbert

He started his career as a saxophone player in local pubs, but put his sax down one night for some on-stage impersonations.

Engelbert Humperdinck in the early days
Engelbert in the early days

He did Jerry Lewis and was such a success, he never picked up the saxophone again.

His impersonation also gave him his first professional stage name, Gerry Dorsey.

Gerry Dorsey had a successful music career until tuberculosis silenced him for six months.

The illness almost snubbed the rising star of a career, but after a name-change to show the new-born resilience, Gerry Dorsey became Engelbert Humperdinck.

The name was a suggestion from Engelbert's manager, who though it would be outrageous enough to be memorable. Wasn't he right!

Tony Blackburn
Tony Blackburn remembers practicing the correct pronounciation

The first Engelbert Humperdinck was an Austrian composer, who in 1911 wrote the fairy-tale opera "Hansel and Gretel".

Tony Blackburn remembers when Engelbert's debut single first made an appearance on the newly launched Radio 1.

"No-one knew how to pronounce his name but once we got the hang of it, it stayed and he's been around ever since."

Lucky break

Engelbert got his chance to shine when Dicky Valentine had to cancel a performance on a TV show at the London Palladium.

This was in 1967. At the start of the year, Engelbert was un-known. By the end of it, he had sold more records than the Beatles, staying in the charts for 46 weeks.

Some fans have loved Engelbert, or Enge as his fans call him, for as long as he's been around.

Engelbert Humperdinck at his home
Enge, as his fans call him, may have a big house, but spends most time touring

Tony Blackburn is certain that Engelbert's success lies in his appeal to all of the family. Young and old, people adore him.

Engelbert is certainly the King of Romance.

"I still really love 'Release me', it represents an exciting time in my life and I'm always reminded of that."

Engelbert did what the likes of Cliff Richard failed to do, and that was cracking the American market.

Tony Blackburn reckons Engelbert is more known in America than he is in the UK.

Engelbert has had time to reflect on his long career as he's been writing his autobiography.

"I've had a very eventful life. I've met all kinds of people from the big stars to people in the mafia, they really like show people."

Engelbert has been playing the Las Vegas circuit since he first moved to the US. Las Vegas was one of the reasons Engelbert's manager suggested a move overseas.

Elvis stole his looks

Engelbert launched the seventies look in the sixties.

He wanted to create a look that people would remember, a look that was different.

Having gone grey-haired in his twenties, Engelbert decided to dye his hair black.

"I said 'you stole my look' to Elvis, - he said 'hell, if it looks good on you it's gonna to look good on me'."
Engelbert on his look

"I also grew these long sideburns and that was the whole image. People started to recognise me and some used to go to the hairdressers and have an Engelbert look.

"Everyone thinks now because Elvis made it his look that I copied him - but I didn't."

The son of Leicester

Engelbert Humperdinck in Los Angeles
Los Angeles - there's no place like home

Even if Engelbert now spends most of his time in America, he enjoys returning to where it all began.

"I'm very proud that the people of the Leicester deem me as the son of Leicester."

The music he has created over the years is instantly recognisable, and even if he likes being in the recording studio, it's on stage he gets the most appreciation.

"Applause is the food of an artist and I say, thank you for not starving me.

If you want to make sure Engelbert isn't starving, he will be touring the UK from February 2005.

See also ...

Where I Live : Leicester
Music : Easy & Soundtracks

On the rest of the web
Engelbert Humperdinck's official website

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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