Englebert Humperdinck talks on his 50 years in showbiz and his UK concerts

Englebert Humperdinck to play at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall on May 31.
Englebert Humperdinck to play at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall on May 31.

Singing legend Engelbert Humperdinck returns to the UK for a short series of concerts this month, taking in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall on Sunday, May 31.

The 78-year old, who had hits with ‘Release Me’, ‘A Man Without Love’ and ‘The Last Waltz (which was at the top of the charts when BBC Radio One started broadcasting in September 1967) has had a stellar career (as long as we forget his foray into Eurovision) and is getting over a bout of bronchitis, as he tells me from his US home.

“Yes, I had to cancel a couple of concerts, but it’s on it’s way out now.”

“I recently went to Canada and it was really cold which brought it on. Cher had a problem with it too.”

Engelbert has had a number of awards bestowed upon him, including a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame and the Honorary Freedom of Leicester – his hometown; but says he has accomplished everything he has wanted to do.

“There’s nothing else I really want to do with my career,” he explains.“I’ve been satisfied in the way my career journey has taken, I’ve released lots of albums and sold 150 million. I also lived in the era where you could enjoy your recording career.”

His most recent album was released last year and is an album of duets, entitled ‘Engelbert Calling’.

“The album came about after a phone call with Elton John where I asked him if he would like to record a duet and he immediately said ‘yes’, he’s a wonderful artist.”

“Then the idea developed and I wanted to make it into an album that could be popular around the world and the artists involved include Sir Cliff Richard, Olivia Newton-John, Lulu and Neil Sedaka.”

It is a testament to the respect that The Hump is accorded by his peers that the artists joining him on the album have sold one and a half billion records between them.

Another perhaps more surprising artist on the album is Gene Simmons of Kiss.“It was a great thrill to work with Gene,” says Engelbert.I’m six foot one and he’s six foot four and he brought so much enjoyment to the studio.”

The tour marks the 50th anniversary of The Hump starting his career and he says that there have been many highlights.

“Oh, a lot of highlights really,” he says. “My first single, which was ‘Release Me’ stopped The Beatles from getting their thirteenth Number One.”

The flip side of ‘Release Me’, entitled ‘Ten Guitars’ is also very special. “It’s like the National Anthem of New Zealand, it seems that everyone over the age of three knows it and when I play there I have to sing it three times at every show.”

The show itself will be a celebration of The Hump’s career, as he tells me.

“I’ll be doing all my hits as the songs I recorded are so popular and there are a lot of standards.”

“Plus I’ll be singing some songs off the new album which will include a ‘virtual’ duet with Elton John and also a bit of variety away from my repertoire.”

He was due to tour the UK last year, but was unable to, as he explains.

“I caught the ‘flu and I was travelling everywhere wearing surgical masks on the planes.”

“But I love performing in the UK because it’s home to me. I’m just a bloke from Leicester and I enjoy meeting and speaking to the people I meet.”

Of the show he says: “I’m enjoying what I do, the preparation and planning. The show has been tried and tested around the world and people seem to like it.”

In conclusion, he adds.“I hope you like what I’m bringing over.”

His special guest will be Sam Bailey, who won X Factor in 2013.