Engelbert Humperdinck (singer): Wikis


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Engelbert Humperdinck
Birth name Arnold George Dorsey
Also known as Engelbert
Born May 2, 1936 (1936-05-02) (age 73)
Madras, India
Genres pop, easy listening
Instruments vocals, piano
Years active 1956–present

Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey, May 2, 1936) is a popular music singer who became famous internationally during the 1960s and 1970s, after adopting the name of the famous German opera composer Engelbert Humperdinck as his own stage name.


Early years

He was one of ten children born in Madras, India, to British Army officer Mervyn Dorsey and his wife Olive. His mother and father are both British, with no blood lines to Anglo-Indian. His family moved to Leicester, England, when he was 10, and a year later he showed an interest in music and began learning the saxophone. He started work as an apprentice engineer and by the early 1950s he was playing the instrument in nightclubs, but he is believed not to have tried singing until he was 17 and friends coaxed him into entering a pub contest. His impression of Jerry Lewis prompted friends to begin calling him Gerry Dorsey, a name he worked under for almost a decade.[1]

His music career was interrupted by national service in the British Army Royal Corps of Signals during the mid-1950s, but he got his first chance to record in 1958 with Decca Records. His first single, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," was not a hit, but Dorsey recorded for the same company almost a decade later with much different results. Dorsey continued working the nightclubs until 1961, when he was stricken with tuberculosis. He regained his health and returned to nightclub work with little success, but in 1965 he teamed with former roommate Gordon Mills who had become a music impresario and the manager of Tom Jones.[1].

He had his first real success during July 1966, in Belgium where he and four others represented England in the annual Knokke song contest, and in October he was on stage in Mechelen. In that period, Humperdinck was already No. 1 in the Belgian charts, six months before the release of Release Me. Belgian Television then made a video clip in the harbour of Zeebrugge[2]

Changes and chart topping

Aware that Dorsey had been struggling for several years to make it in music, Mills suggested a name change to the more arresting Engelbert Humperdinck, borrowed from the composer of such operas as Hansel and Gretel. Mills also arranged a new deal with Decca Records. In early 1967 the changes paid off when Humperdinck's version of "Release Me," done in a smooth ballad style with a full chorus joining him on the third chorus, scored the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and scored number one in Britain, keeping The Beatles' adventurous "Strawberry Fields Forever" from entering the top slot in the UK. "Release Me" spent 56 weeks in the Top 50 in a single chart run.[3]

Even in a year dominated by psychedelic rock music, the success of "Release Me" may not have been that surprising, considering Frank Sinatra's chart comeback that began a year earlier, and stablemate Tom Jones' success with a ballad or two in the interim, both of which probably opened some new room for more traditionally-styled singers. "Release Me" was believed to sell 85,000 copies a day at the height of its popularity, and the song became the singer's best known song for years.

Humperdinck's deceptively easygoing style and casually elegant good looks, a contrast to Tom Jones's energetic attack and overtly sexual style, earned Humperdinck a large following, particularly among women. "Release Me" was succeeded by two more hit ballads, "There Goes My Everything" and "The Last Waltz", earning him a reputation as a crooner that he didn't always agree with. "If you are not a crooner," he told Hollywood Reporter writer Rick Sherwood, "it's something you don't want to be called. No crooner has the range I have. I can hit notes a bank could not cash. What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylized performer."

He was successful with "Am I That Easy to Forget". "A Man Without Love," "From Here To Eternity", "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize," "The Way It Used To Be, "A Place In The Sun", "I'm A Better Man," and "Winter World of Love" before the 1960s ended. In the 1970s he scored with such albums as The Last Waltz, The Way It Used To Be, A Man Without Love, and Engelbert Humperdinck. His own television program was less successful, being cancelled after six months.

Beyond the 1960s

Engelbert Humperdinck poses after giving a concert in a Belgian café, named "Club nr. 1", October 1966

As his kind of balladry became less popular, and after he adopted some Broadway influences, Humperdinck concentrated on selling albums and on live performances, developing lavish stage presentations that made him a natural for Las Vegas and similar venues. He still had successful singles however, and "After the Lovin'", a ballad recorded for CBS subsidiary Epic, became one of the greatest successes of his career during 1976 and won him a Grammy Award nomination.

It was a conscious effort to update his music and his image. "I don't like to give people what they have already seen," Humperdinck was quoted as saying in a 1992 tourbook. "I take the job description of 'entertainer' very seriously! I try to bring a sparkle that people don't expect and I get the biggest kick from hearing someone say 'I had no idea you could do that!'" He also defended his fan mania, which helped him continue to sell records when radio play largely ended for him. "They are very loyal to me and very militant as far as my reputation is concerned," Humperdinck had told Sherwood. "I call them the spark plugs of my success."

But he later revealed that he had little if any say in the selection of songs for his albums, a fact that had sometimes brought into question whether he was his own or his manager's or record label's pawn. As his career moved on, however, Humperdinck began gaining more creative freedom, and his albums accordingly brought several kinds of songs into his reach beyond syrupy ballads. But he kept romance at the core of his music regardless, and he's long since been tagged by fans as "the King of Romance."

1980s to present

By the 1980s, approaching his fiftieth birthday, Humperdinck continued recording albums regularly and performing as many as 200 concerts a year, yet maintained a strong family life. He and wife Patricia raised four children (Bradley, Scott, Jason and Louise) who are said to have become involved in their father's career, even as the family alternated between homes in England and in southern California.

In 1980 Sunday School teacher Kathy Jetter won a paternity ruling that Engelbert was the father of her daughter Jennifer born in 1980 and he has made paternity payments for her since then although he has declined to meet her. Diane Vincent also claimed that Engelbert was the father of her daughter Angelique and while Engelbert has never admitted the child was his he was forced to make a one-off settlement payment for her upbringing.

He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989 and won a Golden Globe Award as entertainer of the year, while also beginning major involvement in charitable causes such as the Leukemia Research Fund, the American Red Cross, the American Lung Association, and several AIDS relief organisations. He wrote a song for one group, the theme anthem for Reach Out. "He's a gentleman," longtime friend Clifford Elson has been quoted as saying of him, "in a business that's not full of many gentlemen."

In 1989 he recorded album "Star Of Bethlehem", released under name "Ich Denk An Dich" in Germany. All the songs on the album are written by Dieter Bohlen and some are written with Barry Mason. "Ich Denk An Dich" contains singles "Red Roses For My Lady" and "I Wanna Rock You In My Wildest Dreams". Also this album contains a version of Dieter Bohlen's first hit from Modern Talking "You're My Heart, You're My Soul".

The 21st century

Humperdinck—who changed his name legally to his stage name at the height of his career —hit the top five British album charts in 2000 with Engelbert At His Very best, and returned to the album top five four years later, after he appeared in a John Smiths advertisement.

In August 2005, Humperdinck auctioned his Harley-Davidson motorcycle on eBay to raise money for the County Air Ambulance in Leicestershire, where he spent much of his British youth. His latest album released in September 2007, "The Winding Road" is a tribute to British composers.

On February 25, 2009, Leicester City Council announced that Humperdinck would be given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester alongside author Sue Townsend and former professional footballer Alan Birchenall.[4]

The 19th of December, 2009 saw Engelbert perform at the Woolworths Carols in the Domain - a popular Christmas event held in Sydney Australia.

In popular culture

Engelbert's name was mentioned in the South Park episode Starvin' Marvin, being mistaken by Mr. Garrison for Neil Armstrong.

In Dress to Kill, Eddie Izzard's 1999 comedy tour, Izzard imagines the meeting in which 'Gerry Dorsey' was persuaded to change his name to 'Engelbert Humperdinck', and suggests some other potential names that might have been proposed (Gingelbert Spackdeback, Wingybert Humpdeback, etc). Izzard then off-handedly announces that Humperdinck had died that afternoon, as if assuming the audience would already know. This is then followed by a series of alternate denials and confirmations of the fact - aimed at confusing the audience - before eventually stating "I think he's got a cold, that's what they're saying... No, a tan. That's it."

Well-known songs


  • Release Me (1967) UK #6
  • The Last Waltz (1967) UK #3
  • A Man Without Love (1968) UK #3
  • Engelbert (1969) UK #3
  • Engelbert Humperdinck (1969) UK #5
  • We Made It Happen (1970) UK #17
  • Sweetheart (1971)
  • Another Time, Another Place (1971) UK #48
  • Live at the Riviera Las Vegas (1972) UK #45
  • In Time (1972)
  • Engelbert King of Hearts (1973)
  • My Love (1973)
  • Engelbert Humperdinck - His Greatest Hits (1974) UK #1
  • engelbert humperdinck live in Japan(2lp) (1975)
  • After the Lovin' (1976)
  • Miracles By Engelbert Humperdinck (1977)
  • christmas tyme (1977)
  • Last of the Romantics (1978)
  • This Moment in Time (1979)
  • love's only love (1980)
  • retrospective (1980)
  • Live in Concert All of Me (1980)
  • A Merry Christmas With Engelbert Humperdinck (1980)
  • Don't You Love Me Anymore (1981)
  • You and Your Lover (1983)
  • A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening(2lp)(1985)
  • Träumen Mit Engelbert (1986)
  • remember-i love you (1987)
  • in love (1988)
  • Ich denk an Dich (Star Of Bethlehem) (1989)
  • zartlichkeiten (1990)
  • " Coming Home" (1991)
  • " Hello Out There" (1992)
  • " Yours" (1993)
  • " Yours Quiereme Mucho" (1993)
  • " Love Unchained" (1995)
  • " After Dark" (1996)
  • " A Little In Love" (1998)
  • The Dance Album (2000) UK #48
  • Always Hear The Harmony: The Gospel Sessions (2002)
  • Definition of Love (2003)
  • Engelbert Live (2003)
  • His Greatest Love Songs (2004) UK #4 - New Recordings by Ted Carfrae
  • Let There Be Love (2005)
  • Totally Amazing (2006)
  • Greatest Hits and More (2007)
  • The Winding Road (2007)
  • " Legacy Of Love" (2009)

Hit singles

Year Title US Chart Position UK Chart Position US AC US Country
January 1967 "Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)" #4 #1 #28
May 1967 "There Goes My Everything" #20 #2
August 1967 "The Last Waltz" #25 #1 #6
January 1968 "Am I That Easy to Forget" #18 #3 #1 ¹
April 1968 "A Man Without Love (Quando M'Innamoro)" #19 #2 #3
September 1968 "Les Bicyclettes de Belsize" #31 #5 #3
February 1969 "The Way It Used To Be" #42 #3 #4
August 1969 "I'm A Better Man" #38 #15 #6
November 1969 "Winter World Of Love" #16 #7 #3
May 1970 "My Marie" #43 #31 #2
September 1970 "Sweetheart" #47 #22 #2
May 1971 "When There's No You" #45 #1 ¹
September 1971 "Another Time, Another Place" #43 #13 #5
March 1972 "Too Beautiful To Last" #86 #14 #16
August 1972 "In Time" #69 - #12
December 1972 "I Never Said Goodbye" #61 - #18
June 1973 "I'm Leavin' You" #99 - #17
October 1973 "Love Is All" #91 #44 #33
February 1974 "Free As the Wind" - - #34
June 1974 "Catch Me, I'm Falling" - - #43
November 1975 "This Is What You Mean To Me" #102 - #14
October 1976 "After the Lovin'" #8 #1 #40 ²
April 1977 "I Believe In Miracles" - - #15
June 1977 "Goodbye My Friend" #97 - #37 #93
October 1977 "Lover's Holiday" - - #26
April 1978 "The Last of the Romantics" - - #28
August 1978 "Love's In Need of Love Today" - - #44
December 1978 "This Moment In Time" #58 #1 #93 ¹
April 1979 "Can't Help Falling In Love" - - #44
July 1979 "A Much, Much Greater Love" - - #39
March 1980 "Love's Only Love" #83 - #28
June 1981 "Don't You Love Me Anymore" - - #41
July 1983 "Til You And Your Lover Are Lovers Again" #77 - #17 #39
March 1988 "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" #93
June 1989 "Red Roses For My Lady" -
July 1996 "Lesbian Seagull" -
January 1999 "Quando Quando Quando" #40
May 2000 "How To Win Your Love" #59
May 2002 "Once in a while" -

¹ #1 Adult Contemporary hit for 1 week
² #1 Adult Contemporary hit for 2 weeks

See also


  • Claghorn, Charles Eugene. Biographical Dictionary of American Music, Parker Pub. Co., 1974.
  • Clarke, Donald (Ed.). The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Viking, 1989.
  • Larkin, Colin. The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Guinness Publishing, 1992.
  • Sadie, Stanley; Hitchcock, H. Wiley (Ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Grove's Dictionaries of Music, 1986.
  • Stambler, Irwin. Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, St. Martin's Press, 1974.
  • Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 5th edition, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1992.
  1. ^ a b Stark, Herbert Alick. Hostages To India: OR The Life Story of the Anglo Indian Race. Third Edition. London: The Simon Wallenberg Press: Vol 2: Anglo Indian Heritage Books
  2. ^ YouTube - Engelbert - Dommage Dommage
  3. ^ ""Release Me"". ChartStats. http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=4510. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  4. ^ "City honours three of its finest 'ambassadors'". Leicester City Council. 2009-02-25. http://www.leicester.gov.uk/newssite/index01.asp?pgid=9104. Retrieved 2009-02-26. 

External links

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