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Singer Engelbert Humperdinck on Leicester City F.C. & whether he's had to use karate

  • The vocal legend on his new Christmas album and his history with sports.
EXPERT COLUMNIST
Exclusive
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 19:21 IST

Engelbert Humperdinck live at the One World Concert at Syracuse University
Engelbert Humperdinck live at the One World Concert at Syracuse University

With 50 years in show business to his credit, singer Engelbert Humperdinck has released more than two dozen charting albums. Still playing to packed houses around the world, Humperdinck has not slowed down at all in recent years. 2017 saw the release of The Man I Want To Be, whereas 2018 has brought Warmest Christmas Wishes and a PBS concert special recorded in Hawaii.

As featured on Warmest Christmas Wishes, “Please Come Home For Christmas” was premiered by Billboard in late August. Said Humperdinck of Warmest Christmas Wishes: “It's been such a long time since I recorded a Christmas album, and fans have been asking me, 'When are you going to do another one?' Finally, we decided to do it. I love [Christmas]. From me growing up with a large family and everybody singing around the Christmas tree, it was a wonderful, wonderful upbringing. So [Christmas] is very special with me to share."

While Engelbert Humperdinck was in New York City doing press, I had the pleasure of interviewing the musical legend in-person within the office of Paste Magazine. Sports-related highlights from that chat are below; the rest of the interview, including anecdotes about Elvis Presley, comedian Jerry Lewis and recording for the Beavis & Butthead soundtrack, be played on an upcoming episode of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz.

In the meantime, all things Engelbert-related can be found online at www.engelbert.com.

I believe you had two albums slated to come out within a couple of months within one another…

Engelbert Humperdinck: One of them is already out. The Man I Want To Be is out and it has a lot of great new songs. My Christmas album comes out tomorrow.

How long had you been planning to have two releases so close together?

Engelbert Humperdinck: I'll be honest with you… My album came out and then we started production on the Christmas album I haven't done a Christmas song for 40 years and my fans following kept saying, “When are you going to do another Christmas album?” So finally we got together with a record company and we solved the problem by putting the album out and getting it finished. All ready to go!

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One of my favorite parts of your career is that a lot of artists will say that they have a multigenerational audience, but you literally do with the fact that Damon Albarn is a fan, and there’s the Beavis & Butthead Do America soundtrack and all that. When did you first start to notice that you had multiple generations following you?

Engelbert Humperdinck: I see them in the audience… I see all age groups out there, you know? Especially when when you've been in the business half a century and then you see young faces in the audience people who enjoy it. It's so wonderful to see it, and I think the reason why I have longevity in this business is because of the multi-generation… I think three, four generations, whatever it is… It's given me a very stable career… I've been very fortunate.

Your name as a performer was taken from an old-time composer, yet your name itself was used as a tribute to a professional wrestling character, Sir Oliver Humperdink, who managed Bam Bam Bigelow and worked with Diamond Dallas Page. Was that something that ever came your way or people talked about?

Engelbert Humperdinck: Is that right?

Yeah…

Engelbert Humperdinck: But there's a lot of people have been named after me after I took the name. And it's amazing what people say, “My mother chose the name [Engelbert] because of you.” But I believe there’s also a ball player named Engelbert.

In football?

Engelbert Humperdinck: I believe so, yeah.

I know that you're a real estate guy, but away from all the work and all that, are you a sports fan?

Engelbert Humperdinck: I come from Great Britain and I'm a soccer fan and a couple of years ago my team in Leicester, where I live and lived, they won the Premier League. I was so happy because I idolized that team. I was able to hold the cup in my hand and meet the whole team and meet the owners. It was just wonderful. But I do play sports, I play golf and I play tennis. I’m a water-skiier. I’m a slalom skier.

Water-skiing, really…

Engelbert Humperdinck: Yes, I’ve studied martial arts with the number-one martial arts guy in the early years. His name is Mike Stone. He was an undefeated world champion. He lives in the Philippines. In fact, he put me on my diet and he told me what to do with and the exercises to do to keep [my weight] down.

Regarding your martial arts background, did you ever have to use that in a fight?

Engelbert Humperdinck: No, I… One time on-stage this guy, I just did a little bit. (laughs)

So moving back to today, how far in advance do you plan your career? I ask because you’ve got this PBS special coming soon, plus you had the holiday album and a regular studio album. Do you look ahead a year or two in advance?

Engelbert Humperdinck: It's always a year ahead. Hopefully this coming 2019 is going to be an excellent year for me, because who knows how long I've got left in show business. But I never try to think I'm going to retire. I don't want to retire, and as long as I have a good following and people still love me and my music, I am going to keep going .

Is there something that you wish more people knew about you beyond the music?

Engelbert Humperdinck: It started with social media, the way it is especially today, we are streaming across the world and people are getting to know me a lot more. With Facebook I put little things out on a daily basis, to keep everybody in touch with what's happening in my life.

So in closing, any last words for the kids?

Engelbert Humperdinck: Who are up and coming?

Sure.

Engelbert Humperdinck: Stick to it, it’s a great life.

Published 20 Oct 2018, 11:15 IST
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