Engelbert Humperdinck has come a long way from the days when he was known as Arnold George Dorsey. He took his stage name from a 19th-century composer to grab your attention, but it’s his voice that has fans coming back time and again for a song catalog that goes back more than fifty years.
Humperdinck brings his “The Man I Want to Be” tour to Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall July 28, but that also begs the question: For a singer who’s already bigger than life what kind of man does he want to be?
I asked that question in a recent phone call and that brought a roar of laughter. “It’s just the title of my new CD. I’ll admit that over the years I’ve pretty much done it all, and I hope it doesn’t end,” he says.
Humperdinck is very much looking forward to the Akron show. “Love Northeast Ohio. We play there often, but it’s such a thrill to see those audiences. We’ve played casinos and indoor and outdoor arenas. The audience makes it special. Can’t wait,” Humperdinck says. Neither can the fans.
Humperdinck has quite a history, too. When he first broke on the scene with “Release Me” back in 1967 he kept the Beatles “Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields” from the number one spot stopping the band’s streak at eleven.
He’s topped the charts plenty of times as well, and was part of a recent charity single with a group of artists doing “With A Little Help from My Friends”. Humperdinck has worked with plenty of top artists, even cutting an album of duets with Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick and other surprise guests.
“It was great fun. It was a thrill to have Gene Simmons from KISS join in. And Willie Nelson. He called me about three times to find out if I enjoyed his performance on it. ‘If it’s no good Engle-burt I kin do it agin’ “ It was perfect,” he recalls.
Humperdinck does another duet on the new CD that he’s really proud of. “My granddaughter. Nine years old. She has an amazing voice and I think she has potential to be the next Bruno Mars. We do “I’m Glad I Danced with You.” I do a Mars song as well, “Just the Way You Are.”. The album is dedicated to my wife,” he says.
There’s also a new TV special in the works from Hawaii due this December. “It’s for PBS. I always wanted to do a special like my friend Elvis, and now that I have the opportunity I’ll take advantage of it. He did a great job and I’m looking forward to doing that show.”
And does Humperdinck know much about the city of Akron? You could hear the shock in his voice when I asked that question. “Oh, come on; LeBron James.”
Englebert Humperdink performs at 7 PM. Saturday, July 28 at the E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, 189 Hill St, Akron.,