Katie Roupe | Daily file photo
Humperdinckers, rejoice. The most interesting name in the world — belonging to the sideburn-sporting sex symbol — will serenade Chautauquans in the signature style all his own at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.
Engelbert Humperdinck, with hit singles such as “Release Me,” “After the Lovin’” and “Quando, Quando, Quando,” has been a staple name in record collections across the globe since the late 1960s. Humperdinck released the 80th album of his career, Engelbert Calling, in March — a record that also happens to be his first-ever collection of duets.
The track list for the 23-song album showcases the Humper singing alongside musical giants like Elton John, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Smokey Robinson, to name a few.
“It was a big change and a great honor to work with all these legendary people,” he told Billboard Magazine in February. “All of [the songs] are pretty personal; I wouldn’t have chosen them if I didn’t particularly like them. They all have a certain significance attached to them that relates to my life and to [the other singers].”
Before adopting the name of the Austrian “Hansel and Gretel” composer, Humperdinck was known as Arnold Dorsey, one of 10 children born in Madras, India — now Chennai — to a British military man and a violin teacher. It wasn’t until the Dorsey family moved to Leicester, England, that Humperdinck began to take an interest in the music scene.
According to his website, when Humperdinck was 17 years old, he was pressured by friends to join in a singing competition at a local pub. That night, he gave such a good imitation of Jerry Lewis that he began performing regularly under the name Gerry Dorsey for almost a decade.
After an almost career-ending bout of tuberculosis silenced the singer for half a year, Dorsey’s manager suggested a name change to boost his popularity and reinvigorate his image. Adopting the outrageous moniker, Humperdinck began topping the charts with “Release Me,” a number that kept The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” from reaching number one in the UK. Humperdinck’s career never looked back.
The 78-year-old singer has garnered four Grammy nominations, 24 platinum and 63 gold records, and more than 150 million total record sales to date. He’s far from finished: After leaving Chautauqua, his current tour has him hopping across the U.S. and Canada all the way through next April. Never one to slow down, Humperdinck told Billboard that he already has plans for a follow-up album to Engelbert Calling, one he claims will probably be named Re-Dialed.