Engelbert Humperdinck

We speak to amusingly named UK crooner

Interview, The Knowledge

How do keep your music fresh after all these years?
I watch shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent – the people on these shows are trained by experts, they perform very commercial music; that’s good to watch.

What do you think of modern music?
Pop music is fine with me. I first started my success in 1967 and I’ve sold 150 million records. You have to sell one million records for a gold disc [it’s actually 500,000] and I’ve got two rooms in my homes in LA and England with 40 feet walls full of gold records. Everywhere I go people know my music. I don’t get into the charts a lot these days.

That’s nearly as many records as The Rolling Stones. Why don’t you get remembered in the same way as some of your contemporaries, say, Cliff Richard or Tom Jones?
I’ve got a lot of respect in the business because of the number of records I’ve sold. There are people you can name who haven’t even scratched the surface of what I’ve sold – eight million, nine million – nothing.

Why did you change your name again?
Because I couldn’t make it under my own name. I think most people do it; Lady Gaga did it. My name is very unusual, difficult to sign, but successful. I’m Arnold Dorsey off stage and Engelbert on. I’m both names.

What do your friends call you?
Enge.

I hear you played with Jimi Hendrix?
He opened for me (on a European tour in the ’60s). One night my guitarist was sick so he played in my band. He was fantastic, I was very fortunate to have the great Jimi Hendrix playing for me.

What made you pick Bruce Springsteen’s sexually-charged ‘I’m on Fire’ as a cover?
It’s a good successful song, full of sexual energy, like all my music.

We understand you’ve claimed to be a healer – was there any group healing at your show in Dubai?
I don’t know anything about this. That was just a rumour.

How long can you keep it up?
I want to keep going until God calls, like a lot of great performers have.

Which of those greats would you like to be remembered alongside?
The people I respect and am friendly with, people like Elvis, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior.

What was Elvis like?
A genuine gentleman, one of the best people I’ve ever met in the world. He was the ultimate as a performer and as a person.

Before you go, can we just check how old you are?
I’m 45.

Of course you are, our apologies…
Humperdinck will represent the UK at Eurovision on May 26.

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