What is Engelbert Humperdinck's most successful song

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This content was published on April 27, 2021 - 10:59 am (Keystone-SDA)

His hair is gray and his face is wrinkled, but Engelbert Humperdinck still feels young. "Forever Young" sings the artist known for shreds like "Release Me" or "The Last Waltz" on his current album.

"This is a motto that I live by," said the Briton in an interview with the daily newspaper "Times" last year. "I'm trying not to let the old man in." On Sunday (May 2nd) the man, who is mainly known by his first name in Germany, will be 85 years old.

Engelbert, who mostly lives in Los Angeles and also has a house in Leicestershire, England, would actually be on tour in Europe at the moment. Due to the corona pandemic, his concerts were recently postponed to next year. "I don't think I'll ever retire," he told the Times. "As long as I have my voice and it's as strong as ever, why should I? It keeps me young." He has been touring the world tirelessly for decades. And yes, his voice is really still powerful and supple.

The mega ballad "Release Me" should not be missing from any show. Eddie Miller's song was almost 20 years old and had already been sung by several other artists when Engelbert, who was already 31 years old, landed a number one hit in Great Britain with his version in 1967. It was the beginning of a world career - to date he is said to have sold more than 140 million records.

Before "Release Me" he had tried his hand at musicianship under his maiden name Arnold George Dorsey with only moderate success. He was born in 1936 in Madras (now Chennai), India, as one of ten children of the Dorsey family. His father, who was serving in the British Indian Army at the time, was of Welsh descent and his mother had German roots. Arnold was ten years old when the family moved to England. In Leicester, the young Arnold learned to play the saxophone. As Gerry Dorsey, he performed in nightclubs. After military service, he recorded his first single in 1958, which, however, received little attention.

After a tuberculosis disease had thrown him back, his former roommate Gordon Mills, now a successful music boss and already the manager of Tom Jones, took him under his wing in the mid-1960s. Mills proposed the renaming and chose the name of the German composer Engelbert Humperdinck, who died in 1921. "It is difficult to pronounce, but once you have said it, you want to say it again and again," Mills is said to have announced at the time. "It is so monstrous that it will not be forgotten."

The manager should be right. With the new name, his wavy, shiny hair and the sprawling sideburns, Engelbert won the hearts of women in particular. With Mills and Tom Jones he founded a joint artist management company, but later got out of the dispute. In Germany he only appeared as Engelbert, because the heirs of the other Humperdinck had forbidden him to use his full stage name. It didn't hurt him.

In the 80s, the successful German producer Jack White, who produced Tony Marshall and David Hasselhoff among others, gave the British charmer a new impetus. The LP "Träume mit Engelbert", a collection of new recordings of old Engelbert songs in a shallow hit sound, even topped the German charts in 1987. In 1989 Dieter Bohlen produced his album "I think of you - an evening full of tenderness". Engelbert's version of Modern Talking's "You're My Heart, You're My Soul" is a curiosity in pop history.

The album titles by this time had long been aimed at a more mature, female audience. In keeping with this, Engelbert showed himself on the covers as a smiling charmer - in a kitschy suit, with a tanned complexion, perfect hair-dryer and gleaming white teeth.

This image of the woman hero corresponded to reality. Nevertheless, Engelbert's wife Patricia, with whom he has four children, stayed with him until her death in February. "She always stood by me and tolerated my antics for many years," he admitted in an interview with "Freizeit Revue" in 2012. A few years ago, Patricia had Alzheimer's disease. Engelbert reported on social media that she was infected with the corona virus shortly before her death.

Once a week "The Hump", as he is called by many fans, speaks to his followers in short video messages on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook and sometimes tells anecdotes from his life. The singer does not lack interesting stories. He performed for a while in the gaming metropolis Las Vegas and associated with show greats such as Elvis Presley and Dean Martin. In 1996 he sang the ironic number "Lesbian Seagull" for the soundtrack of the animated comedy "Beavis and Butt-Head Do It in America". Suddenly he was also known to young MTV viewers.

A story that Engelbert is probably less fond of telling is that of his participation in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012. With his contribution "Love Will Set You Free" for Great Britain he only landed on the embarrassing penultimate place. "I did my best for my country," Engelbert assured the German press agency at the time. "The rest was out of my hands."