For Englebert Humperdinck, music has been an obsession.
In the late ’60s, early ’70s, one big name in English pop music was Englebert Humperdinck. His complicated name added to the drama of his music. In an interview uploaded on YouTube, Englebert tells us, this was not the name he was born with. His original name was Arnold George Dorsey. Then he changed it to Gerry and he was successful in England with that name. Many years later when he recovered from a near-death illness of tuberculosis, he could not go back into the showbiz as the Gerry who had disappeared. He called himself Englebert…He was born again, and this may be of interest to many of us who have enjoyed hearing his “Release Me”, in Chennai. When he was of ten years of age, his family moved to England — Leicester.
“… it has been an obsession…ever since I was a child I thought only of music. I dreamt of being a band leader…I learnt to play the saxophone…but I finished playing that when I was 17, when I started singing. My mother was a beautiful lady who could play the violin and had an operatic voice…I think that is where I have got the power in my life. Music dominates my life. I love to play golf…it used to be tennis, racquet ball, skiing…but now I stick to golf because my touring takes up all my life. It is easier to go play golf in any country…but I am always thinking, thinking, thinking of music…,” says Englebert. He says he writes and sings songs that can relate to people…songs with a storyline. He admits that many of his songs are sad but the reason for this, “I feel once you have heard a story you have experienced, it is like released out. Then you know somebody else has it as well. You are not the only one….”
Englebert describes his entry into the singing world by saying he was once at a bar when he was 17. Everyone was singing. He did too. He got a lot of praise and enquiries. He then got into the circuit and sang at various places, “I had primed myself and was easy so when this little moment came along I was ready. They thought I was a professional…and that to now.”
“Everyone calls me Enge… I have kind of got used to it now,” says the singer who loves being with people, is rather demanding in the sense he cannot stand lazy and lackadaisical people and is a loving husband. Talking in this strain, he tells us of his biography. “Everyone writes biographies…I thought if someone else wrote about my life they may not get the facts right. You know I have had a rather eventful life, I have been naughty and my wife stood by me at all times…she let me grow up. It was she who suggested that I write my biography and she has written a paragraph in it which is very nice…I met my wife on a dance floor in Leicester,” says the singer. Obviously the story was different from what he sung about in “The Last Waltz”. “My massive hits have been ballads and so I have been a romantic singer. Love is what makes the world go around. It has its cycle when it is not so much in the limelight. Romantic sings too go up and come down. Fortunately, they are back…everything has a cycle and so I feel you have to keep pushing along, do your work and when the right song comes along it is a hit.”
A father of three sons and a daughter, he says two of his children have sung with him on stage but now he has “cut the umbilical chord for that is the only way they will make a name for themselves. They cannot always be known as my children…but I gave them the initial opportunities.”
The singer, in this three part interview, talks of his visit to India and how he was surprised to find people knew his songs and sang along with him….
Keywords: Englebert Humperdinck