- - Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ever since Engelbert Humperdinck’s first album in 1967, the pop idol has mesmerized audiences with his dynamic voice and irresistible style, packing concert halls and selling millions of records. Now he invites Washington-area fans to share an evening of musical memories and danceable rhythms from “Engelbert Calling,” his latest album.

“For nearly 50 years, I’ve always looked forward to performing for my fans,” Mr. Humperdinck told The Washington Times from Los Angeles. “I’ve been very fortunate in my career, and I love looking back through those amazing years that first took me around the world, playing to sellout concerts.”

The title “Engelbert Calling,” he said, comes from a comment Elton John made years ago when, as a struggling songwriter, he kept hoping the telephone would ring with Engelbert on the other end looking for a new song. Now, Mr. Humperdinck joins Mr. John, Smokey Robinson, Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, Charles Aznavour, Wynonna Judd, Kenny Rogers, Neil Sedaka and other friends to revisit old favorites in fresh ways.

“I wanted to sing a duet with each of them, but it would have been impossible to work personally with the various artists, wherever they might be,” Mr. Humperdinck said, but “thanks to this electronic world, I simply sent them the initial track. They each put their voice on it and sent it back to me to be completed. The only two able to come to the LA studio to sing with me were Elton John and Gene Simmons, who brought humor and life into the studio by ad-libbing with Elton and me.”

Mr. Humperdinck has earned Grammys, 1988’s Golden Globe Entertainer of the Year, 63 gold records, 24 platinum records and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He always keeps his fans in mind, touring extensively to perform for them. The “Engelbert Calling” tour stops at 30 major cities in the U.S., Canada and his native United Kingdom.

Mr. Humperdinck grew up in Leicester, England, and remembers walking across the parking lot where the remains of King Richard III were recently unearthed. He maintains a home there and was invited to attend the reburial ceremony in Leicester Cathedral this month, but his tour schedule was impossible to shift.

Mr. Humperdinck’s life has changed dramatically since he started his career by entering a vocal contest under his real name, Arnold George Dorsey, and won for his impersonation of Jerry Lewis. That put him on the U.K. music circuit until a bout with tuberculosis sidelined his plans. When he was able to resume his career, his manager decided a new name would throw him back into the spotlight. The name he suggested belonged to a German composer who lived 200 years earlier and proved to be memorable.

“I’ve always loved melodious, romantic music, and although I understand that change is inevitable, I’m thrilled to see a brand-new generation of fans emerging who embrace the music I sing,” Mr. Humperdinck said. “To honor all my fans, I created the Harmony Pendant in the shape of a treble clef with a heart in the middle. When I look out into the audience, I’m always amazed by the number who are wearing my pendant.”

After concerts in Birmingham, Manchester and London’s Royal Albert Hall, he will go on to Tel Aviv before closing in Belgium.

As he travels, Mr. Humperdinck is compiling a documentary. It, too, will be a gift to his fans.

“Being in the studio is my creative side,” he said. “That’s where I’ve put out more than 80 albums and compilations, but there’s nothing better than walking on stage and seeing live people.” With a chuckle, he added, “For many years, women tossed me their underwear in appreciation of my songs, and it does still happen, but today my older fans are more sedate.”


WHAT: Engelbert Humperdinck on the “Engelbert Calling Tour”

WHERE: Music Center at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, 20852

WHEN: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

INFO: Tickets $38 to $88 by calling 301/581-5100 or visiting Strathmore.org

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