Englebert Humperdinck credits name change with his success
Englebert Humperdinck has been in the music business for more than 50 years. He will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at The Maryland Theatre. (Submitted photo / October 26, 2012)
What's in a name?
For Englebert Humperdinck, it's the difference between being a super star and a smalltime crooner.
It's the difference between playing local pubs and appearing at The London Palladium.
As Arnold George Dorsey, his given name, it's doubtful the British singer would have sold more than 150 million records — 63 gold and 24 platinum — or won a Golden Globe as "Entertainer of the Year."
But as Englebert Humperdinck, he became a music icon.
The man from Leicester, England, was a struggling performer in the 1960s, playing dance halls and bars — dedicated to his craft, he said, but growing impatient with his lack of success in the music industry.
"One day," the balladeer recalled, "I decided to do something to establish myself. I changed my name which changed my career. It got me noticed."
Humperdinck soon landed a contract with Decca Records and in 1967 had his first hit, "Release Me," which rocketed to the top of the British charts and stayed there for six weeks.
Other romantic ballads followed, including ""The Last Waltz," "After the Lovin'" and "There Goes My Everything."
The singer with the funny name had become a sought-after performer, with world tours, a television show, Grammy nominations and the title "The King of Romance."
The charismatic Humperdinck will be bringing his stylized music to Hagerstown when he appears at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at The Maryland Theatre.
It is just one stop on what Humperdinck said has been a very busy schedule in 2012.
"This has been an amazing year," the 76-year-old singer shared during a telephone interview from his home in California. "I've toured South Africa, Israel, Europe, Canada and now the U.S., just to name a few. I'm currently collaborating with a Grammy-winning producer on my first duet-album ever and will have an opportunity to sing with some of the biggest names out there. It's still top secret, but there are some big surprises in store."
Not bad for someone who has been performing for more than 50 years.
"It's nice to know that people still enjoy my music," he said.
Born in India but raised in England, Humperdinck has loved music all of his life. He took up the saxophone at the age of 11 but also enjoyed singing.
"However, I was very shy," he said. "My parents would want me to perform for friends. But I would only do it if I could stand behind a curtain."
As a young man, Humperdinck said he learned to overcome his shyness by escaping into his role as a singer.
"I call myself the thespian of music," he said. "I have a role to play. Even after all of these years, I become nervous backstage. But as soon as I begin to sing, about five minutes into the concert, the butterflies disappear. That's the world of entertainment."