Engelbert Humperdinck

Born in Madras, India in 1936, Arnold George Dorsey and his family, which included nine brothers and sisters, moved to England in 1947. His father served in the British military, and his mother taught violin and had an operatic voice. They all lived in Leicester, England and as a young lad, Arnold developed strong and enduring family values imparted by his parents. At the age of eleven, he began to study saxophone. When he was seventeen, Arnold found himself playing at a pub that sponsored a singing contest. Goaded by his friends to enter, he put down his sax and for the first time revealed another vocal talent, impersonations. He gave a fine impression of Jerry Lewis and was quickly dubbed "Gerry" Dorsey by his friends. It became his professional stage name and he never picked up the sax again.

Gerry was very popular on the UK music circuit until he contracted tuberculosis, which silenced him for six months and nearly snuffed out his rising star. Many people assumed his career was finished. Upon regaining his health, he knew he had to bury his old, somewhat tainted image to make a comeback as a strong, dynamic performer. Meeting his old flat mate, Gordon Mills in 1965, led to a change of direction, career and name. Mills was a clever manager and promoter who knew that a performer had to call attention to himself in any way possible. His idea for Gerry was to change his name to something that people would remember. He convinced Gerry that an audience would never forget the name Engelbert Humperdinck, the name of the Austrian composer who wrote the children's story, Hansel and Gretel. Mills was right. Within two years Gerry had a new record deal, and as Engelbert Humperdinck, was appearing at the London Palladium, standing in at the last minute for Dickie Valentine. It was the chance of a lifetime and Engelbert took it. His performance was brilliant and the song that did it was the Country hit, "Release Me". It created a deluge of phone calls the following morning to record shops. Thousands of fans were trying to order his recording of the song and trying to pronounce his name. A few weeks later the disc was number one in Britain (it sold over five million copies), and he became Britain's top male singer. For the next six years he enjoyed phenomenal chart success both in the UK and in America, commanding vast sums of money for appearances. The hit records soon began to pile up with "There Goes My Everything" (#20 in 1967), "The Last Waltz" (#25 in 1967), "Am I That Easy To Forget" (#18 in 1968), "A Man Without Love" (#19 in 1968), "Les Bicyclettes De Belsize" (#31 in 1968) "I'm A Better man" (#38 in 1969), "Winter World Of Love" (#16 in 1970), and "After The Lovin'" (#8 in 1976) among them. Several of the major forces in the world of Rock 'n' Roll, including Jimi Hendrix and The Carpenters, started out as opening acts for Humperdinck in the late '60s, '70s and '80s.

With over 130 million records sold, Engelbert Humperdinck, recorded everything from the most romantic ballads to the Platinum-selling theme song "Lesbian Seagull" for a Beavis and Butthead movie. His sense of humor endeared him to millions of fans around the globe and the MTV generation discovered what a magnificent musician the rest of the world had celebrated for decades. With four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe for Entertainer Of The Year (1988) and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Engelbert joined in elite group of musical artists, such as Tony Bennett and Burt Bacharach, who have crossed over successfully to strike a new chord with a younger generation, in addition to their core audiences. He has appeared on several MTV programs in the past, including two appearances on MTV Beach House, Chilling with the Weaze and Oddville. Engelbert's CD, "Vie Dance Album" was his first album in the Dance genre. Released by the red-hot dance label Interhit Records, the album featured newly recorded dance versions of six of Engelbert's greatest hits, along with five original songs. Favorites such as "Quando, Quando, Quando" and "Release Me" were set to an infectious dance beat. The album enjoyed tremendous success, with "Release Me" hitting Top Ten in the Billboard Dance charts. Said Billboard magazine of The Dance Album: "brilliantly cool... one of the most fun pop/dance albums of the decade."

Few people realize that it was Humperdinck, not Elvis, who made famous the sideburns and flamboyant leather jumpsuits. Engelbert often jokingly asserts that Elvis stole the image from him. Nevertheless, the two legends often performed one another's songs and enjoyed a lasting friendship until Elvis' death in 1977. Humperdinck always enjoyed a healthy rivalry with Tom Jones, and the two actually partnered for ten years and shared Gordon Mills as manager for many, many more. Humperdinck eventually parted company with Mills to employ his own son in the same capacity, and his daughter Louise often appeared along side Dad singing duos and solos. She is another talented member of the family, having written the words to "Know That We Have Loved Before", included on the 1993 album "Engelbert, Yours". His other son Bradley served as his tour manager.

Engelbert went on to appear regularly in Las Vegas and tour throughout North America. In the Spring of 2003 he collaborated with producer Art Greenhaw to record the Gospel album "Always Hear the Harmony: The Gospel Sessions". Joining Humperdinck on the album were The Jordanaires and The Blackwood Brothers Quartet. The critically acclaimed album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year. 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 youth. In September 2007, he released "The Winding Road", as a tribute to British composers. On February 25th, 2009, Leicester City Council announced that Humperdinck would be given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester, along with author Sue Townsend and professional footballer Alan Birchenall.

Not every venture was a success however. In 2010, Engelbert released "Tell Me Where It Hurts", an LP which failed to chart in either America or the UK. His 2012 schedule had him appearing in Chile, Lebanon and America as well as working on a new album. In a move that surprised many, the 75 year old singer was selected to represent the UK at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. His chosen song was called "Love Will Set You Free". Unfortunately, he finished in 25th place out of 26, coming in second to last in the voting with 12 points.

In March, 2014, Engelbert, who continued to tour regularly, announced that his 80th album, "Engelbert Calling" would feature duets with Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson, Wynonna Judd and Gene Simmons of KISS. As he maintained a busy schedule of live appearances across the globe throughout 2015, Engelbert announced in September that he was busy preparing a new Country album. Engelbert was in the news again in October, 2015 after Tom Jones was quoted as saying about their former rivalry, "It's as I say, once a c**t, always a c**t." Humperdink responded, "To be honest, I feel sorry for Tom always being in a bad mood. Life is too short to hold anger inside. I wish him luck." Engelbert went on to say that he has put the outburst behind him as he prepared for his latest tour of Australia. His 2017 schedule had him booked for shows in the United States and Canada during the Spring. In May of that year his original label, Decca Records released a comprehensive Greatest Hits package which promptly became a Top Five album in his home country of England. November 24th brought an entirely new CD entitled "The Man I Want To Be", which doubles as a love letter to his wife of fifty three years, Patricia who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Engelbert was scheduled to take the new songs on the road for his 50th Anniversary Live tour across Europe, North America and around the world in 2018. In 2019, Humperdinck gave concerts in Singapore, Manila, and Tokyo.

For 2020, he was scheduled to appear in seven U.S. cities as well as stops in London, Scotland, and Germany, but the COVID-19 outbreak scuttled those plans. Sadly, his wife Patricia died in Los Angeles on February 5th, 2021 after contracting the virus. Humperdinck shared on Instagram that the family had prayed with her and blessed her with water from Lourdes. The singer said she passed away after suffering with Alzheimer's disease for more than a decade. It was a tragic ending for a woman who once said that she could wallpaper her bedroom with all of the paternity lawsuits filed against Engelbert. He was successfully sued for paternity by two women during the 1970s and 1980s.