British singer Engelbert Humperdinck made it big in 1967 with the hit song “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again).” His career has spanned more than 50 years.
Born Arnold George Dorsey in India on May 2, 1936, singer Engelbert Humperdinck got his distinctive name from his manager (who also managed Tom Jones). He hit it big with the song “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)” in 1967, following up with seven consecutive number one hits. Humperdinck became a regular on the touring circuit, with his songs having been used in several movie soundtracks.
Early Life and Career
Born Arnold George Dorsey in Madras, India, on May 2, 1936, singer Engelbert Humperdinck scored several hits during the 1960s. He is the second youngest of 10 children born to Mervyn and Olive Dorsey; Humperdinck spent the first 11 years of his life in Madras, where his father worked as an engineer. In 1947, the future crooner moved with his family to England, where they settled in Leicester.
A self-described dreamer and loner, Humperdinck dropped out of school at the age of 15. After a stint doing National Service in Germany, he began singing in men’s clubs, but it was a hard way to make a living. Singing under the name Gerry Dorsey, Humperdinck scraped by financially. His financial pressures increased when he married his wife, Patricia. The couple eventually had four children together.
In attempt to reinvent himself, the performer followed the advice of his new manager, who also oversaw fellow singer Tom Jones. His manager changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck, the same name as the late 19th century German composer and creator of the opera Hansel and Gretel. Without any protest, the singer bought into the idea. “I had no choice,” he later said of his name change. “I was a starving singer, and someone was giving me a chance to get on in the business.”
Not long after, things began to fall into place for Humperdinck. He signed a record deal and landed a spot on the esteemed British variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium. In 1967, Humperdinck hit it big with the single “Release Me.” The song thrust Humperdinck into the spotlight and put a permanent end to any fears about failing to make it in show business. At one point, the single sold 80,000 copies a day. It also managed to fend off the Beatles’ “Penny Lane” from the top of the charts. The song was the first of seven consecutive Top 10 U.K. hits that Humperdinck would have over the next two years.
“Release Me” also became a Top 10 song in the United States. This single was Humperdinck’s biggest pop success stateside, but he also made the charts with such songs as “Am I That Easy to Forget” and “A Man Without Love (Quando M’innamoro).” His last major pop single came in 1976 with “After the Lovin’,” which also reached the top of the Billboard adult contemporary chart. In 1979, he returned to the top of the adult contemporary chart with “This Moment in Time.”
While not the chart-topper he once was, Humperdinck remained a popular live act. He toured extensively and became a fixture on the Las Vegas concert scene. He also continued to record, including the albums Remember I Love You (1987) and Yours (1993).
In 1996, Humperdinck showed that he had a sense of humor about both himself and his easy-listening style by recording a track for the animated film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. Two years later, he released The Dance Album, which featured club-worthy versions of his hits.
His 2003 country roots album, Always Hear the Harmony: The Gospel Sessions, earned him a Grammy nomination for “Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year.” It was Humperdinck’s first gospel album and featured collaborations with The Jordanaires, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet and The Light Crust Doughboys.
More recently, in 2014 Humperdinck released a new album of duets, Engelbert Calling, on which recording songs with such famed musicians as Elton John, Smokey Robinson and Kenny Rogers. Often called the “King of Romance,” Humperdinck continues to perform today; he reportedly averages about 140 shows per year.
Humperdinck and his wife, Patricia, divide their time between residences in California and England.