Some people never outgrow their youthful Age of Defiance – they just continue to go through many different “stages” on the riser to success.
Take legendary international superstar Engelbert Humperdinck, for example. He has consistently defied the odds by enduring in the music/entertainment arena for 50 years, continuing to tour the world playing to sold-out crowds, delighting them with his powerful and beautiful pitch-perfect three-octave voice, dynamic entertaining ability, and a rare magnetism that has the audience rushing the stage at the end of every performance. He has defied the naysayers who claimed that he could never survive singing romantic music through hip hop, rap, dance, electronic and other trends over the past five decades. He has even defied gravity, his handsome looks and energy belying his chronological age by decades. (He has recently proclaimed that he will be 50 years old from now on.)
And although in his travels around the globe, the music icon constantly finds himself in “hot” water – as in performing to standing-room-only audiences who react to him like he’s a rock star – he has accomplished all this without kicking and screaming or pouting or sitting down and petulantly crossing his arms and saying “no” to new experiences. Rather, he has maintained by staying true to himself and his kind of music while constantly updating himself with the times and keeping things fresh for his audiences, who happen to be the ones screaming loudly, clapping their hands with a vengeance, and running to the front of the showroom, which, in this case, is definitely most acceptable and welcome adult behavior.
“The first record I ever made gave me a global career,” explains the British artist, who will be bringing his 50th Anniversary Tour to the Orleans, February 25-26. “‘Release Me,’ which stopped the Beatles from having their 13th number one hit and was in the Guinness Book of Records, sold 127,000 records a day in just the U.K. alone at its peak. So every time I released an album, it was a global release. I can visit any country in the world and they all know my music. In days gone by, you had to sell a million records to get a gold record; today, if you sell 50,000, you’ve got gold. I’m glad that I lived in the era I did because on the walls that hold my albums in my homes in England and L.A., there are 70 gold and 24 platinum records altogether. It’s so wonderful to think that I’ve had this career that I’ve achieved over the past 50 years.
“Where my live performance is concerned, the media has been very kind to me,” he adds. “It is very positive after this many years in this business to still sell out venues and have so many people across the generations recognize my music and want to experience it.”
Continually garnering rave reviews from critics, the perennially youthful Engelbert, who has sold more than 150 million records and has received four Grammy nominations, a Golden Globe for "Entertainer of the Year,” and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame among numerous other honors, has never rested on his laurels and continues to look to the future, finding new avenues in his career to keep himself fresh. In the past several years, he has joined an elite group of musical artists who have crossed over successfully to strike a new chord with a younger generation in addition to maintaining their core audiences, He recorded the platinum-selling theme song, “Lesbian Seagull” for the movie “Beavis and Butthead Do America” and has appeared on several MTV programs, including two stints on "MTV Beach House,” "Chilling with the Weaze." and "Oddville.”
Still. the romantic balladeer, whom the London Times once called “the premier voice of the century” and who has amassed a string of evergreen hits including “Release Me”, “After The Lovin’,” “Spanish Eyes,” “The Last Waltz,” “Am I That Easy To Forget,” “There Goes My Everything,” “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize” “Winter World Of Love,” “This Moment In Time,” and “Quando, Quando, Quando” and has recorded some 80 albums over his career, believes that there is no time like the present for romantic music. He notes that it has been his passport to places all over the world where many are reluctant to go, such as Egypt and Beirut, the latter honoring him with an unprecedented peace award. Engelbert believes that with all the harsh news we absorb every day and the woes of the world showing up in songs, we could all use a break when it comes to music.
“Romantic music speaks volumes in three minutes and just takes you into a comfort zone,” he maintains. “I’ve always strived to bring a stage experience that takes people away from the everyday and leaves them with music that stays in their hearts as it has in mine. For my 50th Anniversary Tour, I’m working hard to bring audiences a show that reflects the miles travelled, the years gone by and ‘this moment in time. Along with the songs that are already standards, I’ve just come across a few that I believe will become standards, too. They gave me goosebumps like I got when I heard some of the early demos at the beginning of my career. I can’t wait to share them as they really connect to my life thus far.”
Amazingly, Engelbert says that even after all this time, each show he performs is a learning experience for him and that he picks out little things in each show that he must keep. He reveals that he stores the good pieces of his show and utilizes them in tis next performance.
“You never take each show and say that it was all right and leave it,” he advises. ”I memorize the show and try to find the good things and keep them for the future. I do change my show every year and I will also put in new songs within that year. You have to keep new and you have to keep reinventing yourself. The branding of your life is very important. I’m always thinking about how to do that. You do it with your clothing and manner of presentation on stage and the way you present your image and present your personality. There are so many things you cannot afford to make slips with because a slip can take you back to obscurity. Evan a stupid rumor or adverse publicity can take you back and you can lose your career from something ridiculous. So you have to be careful of those situations that can cause you to lose popularity and I am, well, I try to be. “
Engelbert states that his 50 years in the business has been an incredible apprenticeship and a road one can’t take for granted. He admits that it’s incredulous to him that this mile marker is already here and that wheels are up and buses are rolling and curtains are still rising all over the world a half a century later. He expresses his extreme gratitude for the songs that have taken him to this point in his life and enabled him to do what he loves and to the audiences and the amazing and loyal fans who have followed him to the ends of the earth.
“It’s a far cry from the days of sneaking into the factory to work the lathe and meticulously be a part of making Rolls Royce parts 38 hours a week for eight dollars,” he muses.. “I had hours when I just had to watch and make sure my part was perfect and I think that carried over to my music career. I managed to dream a lot during that time, too --multitasking. I was making parts for other people who had realized their dreams. I could never have imagined that I’d be driving a Rolls myself and still have the same one parked in the driveway 50 years on that I purchased when I reached the stars.”
Driven by success, Engelbert has defied all the obstacles on the road to greatness along the way.