Engelbert and Las Vegas - The Love Affair Never Ends
Millions of love-struck people all over the world agree – when it comes to matters of the heart, there’s just no getting over The Hump.
And they’re not even trying. For the last 44 years, they have taken part in a love affair that has become legendary -- one that has endeared international superstar Engelbert Humperdinck to audiences around the globe. The “King of Romance” as he was dubbed early on by fans and press, and who was most recently tagged “The Love God” by the British media, still doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to letting the feeling flow from his golden three-and-a-half octave voice and handsome countenance. But these days, romance has a pulse
“To me, a song has to have good melody, lyrics and good vibes that people will listen to,” says the down-to-earth entertainer, who will appear at the Orleans Valentine’s Day weekend, February 11-13. “The lyrics touch me personally and relate in some way to my own life, then I communicate that to the audience. I don’t think I could sing a song without feeling it. The honesty of a song’s story comes through the singer’s eyes and not his mouth.”
“In the personal sense, I feel different now than I did in earlier days,” he continues. “I feel more comfortable on stage and feel like I’m in a more contemporary mode. I’ve learned so much from listening to other artists’ music about what is commercial and what is not commercial. The music business is a whole new kettle of fish today; it’s a totally different music scene altogether. So you have to apply what you’ve learned to what’s happening now and change things around a little.”
Throughout his long career, Engelbert has always maintained that “applause is the food of the artist” and has expressed his appreciation for the fact that he has never been starved. But here’s the thing -- even with a full plate of accolades, honors and awards; entering his 45th year of being a seasoned global superstar; and possessing a dynamic entertaining ability that allows him to continually sizzle on stage, the iconic singer admits that he’s still “hungry.”
“While I’ve had my share of hits and have been living off them for 44 years, like any other artist I’d like to have another hit, another poke at the charts,” says the down-to-earth balladeer, “Last year, I released Legacy of Love, an album of my classic hits that, in addition, contains three songs that aren’t mine – ‘My Way,’ ‘Over the Rainbow,’ and ‘Unchained Melody.’ I just released a CD called RELEASED that has a lot of new songs by top contemporary songwriters.”
Reported to be the fifth top-selling recording artist of all time with record sales in excess of 150 million, Engelbert’s fire in the belly started when he was a child named Arnold George Dorsey growing up in Leicester, England, the ninth of 10 children and the youngest son in a close-knit family. A loner in the outside world who was always getting picked on by other kids, his one desire in life was to become somebody.
That strong ambition, accompanied by his powerful and beautiful voice, hard work, perseverance, and a series of fortuitous events, eventually led to his becoming an international luminary amassing 72 gold albums, 23 platinum albums, a Grammy, four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and an Honorary Doctorate of Music. .
As if all that isn’t impressive enough, however, what’s truly amazing about this artist who is on a one-name basis with the world is that while he has recorded albums in recent years that have charted, he has continued to flourish on the entertainment scene through four decades of changing musical trends -- with no hit single since 1978’s “After the Lovin’. What’s more, even in the face of hip-hop, house, rap and other eras of music, he has remained the quintessential romantic singer, staying true to who he is while also keeping up with contemporary times.
“Romance will never leave this earth and I’m proud to be a part of it,” he says. “But people like me who are in the romantic field have a tough job because we have to keep it at a top level. Beat music doesn’t make the world go round but through ballads, love and romance definitely do.”
Engelbert acknowledges that he has played a big part in his own career, making his own decisions and planning his own shows, with only two or three of the latter over the years being produced by others. Even so, he admits that he has made “tons” of mistakes, particularly with management, having been ripped off several times. He is currently in the very capable hands of his son, Scott Dorsey.
“When I make mistakes now,” he adds, “I rap myself on the head and say, ‘Stupid, don’t do that again.’ I don’t dwell on those things – it just brings you down. I just keep moving forward. Luckily, I’ve never had to take too many steps backwards. I was able to maintain a high level in the entertainment world.”
Engelbert admits that one area in which he made some errors was in his physical image. Revealing that he had difficulty finding the right identifiable look for himself through the years, he says that he started to do things that didn’t belong to him. Now, he is adamant about the fact that once an artist sets a style, he should hold that style for the purpose of being recognized.
“I set my style on my TV show with my black hair and long sideburns,” he notes. “Then Elvis and others began copying my sideburns so I shaved mine off. Stupid me. I changed my looks several times -- I dyed my hair blonde, then I grew a mustache, then a beard, then massively long hair. And Engelbert disappeared. Several years ago, I reinvented myself back into myself, dyeing my hair black and growing my sideburns again. And people started to recognize me once more. Everything starts from the head and those aspects created an image for me. Of course, I’ve changed my hair color now – I’ve gone lighter – because with black hair at my age, people will think that I’m trying to be something I’m not.”
With his natural youthful looks (he doesn’t believe in plastic surgery) and energy belying his years, Engelbert believes in taking good care of himself. He eats well and has recently lost 33 pounds on NutriSystem and wants to lose 20 more (“Then I can go on ‘Dancing with the Stars,” he says). A rare exception in the entertainment world, he never dines past 6 p.m., which means that he eats before going on stage while most performers eat afterwards. He also enjoys cooking and, when at home, will often make his own meals. By virtue of the obvious fitness benefits the above activities impart, they also help to maintain the incredible voice that the London Times once called “the premier voice of the century.”
“I don’t know where my voice comes from,” the star says modestly. “I don’t warm up. I don’t do anything. I just walk on stage and the power comes out. I believe that it’s a gift from God.”
Never one to rest on his laurels, Engelbert admits that he still gets butterflies before he goes on stage. When he comes off stage, if something has upset him during the show – such as the sound is bad or he feels he hasn’t given 110 percent of himself – he gets depressed Part of his legacy, he feels, is the way he breathes when he sings. He can sing several lines before taking a breath, something that he says is just part of him.
On the personal side, Engelbert enjoys his stardom, citing that the best thing about it is being recognized all over the world. Taking the good road of fame, he claims, provides comfort and joy in a life that’s a world of fantasy. No longer feeling like he’s living in a fishbowl like he did in the early days of his career and having become more confident in his life, he has been able to cope with and push aside the shyness that always plagued him. When it comes to the people in his life, his biggest beefs are incompetence and those who take advantage of his kindness, mistaking it for weakness. He doesn’t tolerate phonies and says that those associations don’t last.
While he admits that he’s not a very communicative person and that people have to read into him as opposed to his telling them what he’s feeling, there is no mistaking the message he imparts in his music and live performance.
“There’s no greater pleasure for me than walking on stage,” Engelbert sums up. “God has given me life, health, and a good living. As long as I can make a good living, I’m happy and content. As the song goes, ‘music is my first love…and it will be my last.’”
Story is courtesy of Vegas Insider Daily.com