Engelbert Humperdinck: You Ask The Questions

How do you marry your sex appeal with your love of golf? What do your friends call you? And who would you throw your knickers at?
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The Independent Online

Engelbert Humperdinck, 68, was born Arnold George Dorsey in Madras, India, one of 10 siblings in a military family. He moved to Leicester when he was 11. After years as a struggling singer, he took on the name of a long-dead German composer, Engelbert Humperdinck, in 1965. Two years later he had his first and best-known hit, "Release Me". He has since sold more than 130 million records and won four Grammies. Last year, he published his autobiography, What's in a Name?, completed a world tour and finished fifth in an international golf tournament. He lives in Los Angeles and Leicester and has three children.

Engelbert Humperdinck, 68, was born Arnold George Dorsey in Madras, India, one of 10 siblings in a military family. He moved to Leicester when he was 11. After years as a struggling singer, he took on the name of a long-dead German composer, Engelbert Humperdinck, in 1965. Two years later he had his first and best-known hit, "Release Me". He has since sold more than 130 million records and won four Grammies. Last year, he published his autobiography, What's in a Name?, completed a world tour and finished fifth in an international golf tournament. He lives in Los Angeles and Leicester and has three children.

I know Jimi Hendrix used to enjoy watching your performances when you were on tour together in the 1960s. What did you think of him?
Eric Montfort, Malta

That was my first UK tour and Cat Stevens was also on the bill. Jimi was an incredible performer; he had loads of energy and used to play his guitar with his teeth. He saved my bacon once when my guitarist fell ill just before the show was due to start. "Don't worry," he said, "I'll play for you". I told him he couldn't just walk on stage with me - he was much too big a star. So he played behind the curtain; it sounded as though I had three guitarists instead of one that night.

How do you marry sex appeal with your love of golf?
Bob Thompson, Hatfield

You haven't seen me play golf.

Where would you be now, if you were still known as Gerry Dorsey?
Eileen Brown, by e-mail

I wouldn't be where I am today, that's for sure. My manager came up with the idea of choosing a new name that had more of a showbiz ring. I remember the day I picked up the phone and he told me, with great excitement, that he had found the answer. "I've found you a new name," he said, "and as it belonged to a man who died in 1921, you won't get in any trouble with this one". I wasn't sure that such a complicated name would work, but he was right.

What can you tell us about Engelbert Humperdinck, the German composer, whose name has brought you fame and fortune?
Debbie Little, London

Not very much, other than I am eternally grateful to his parents.

If you could throw your knickers at anyone, who would it be?
Karen Jones, Manchester

I don't actually wear knickers, but if I did I'd throw them back to my fans - they've thrown enough at me over the years.

You have seen most of the greats performing live in Vegas. How do you rate them?
Eric Barley, by e-mail

Dean Martin was one of the truly great entertainers. He was also very kind to me and really helped me to get set up in Vegas. He invited me to be part of Dino's Den, a club you couldn't be part of without Dean's invitation, where he introduced me to all the big stars. A little help from Deano meant that my opening night at the Riviera was a full house. Of course, Elvis and Sinatra were also two of the greats. How can I rate them? They were the crème de la crème - I can only hope my performance comes close to theirs.

What is your favourite item of jewellery?
Betty Gilpin, Huddersfield

I've always loved jewellery, especially gold. You can wear too much, but having one or two items on always makes me feel good. If I had to pick one piece it would be my watch. I bought it on my travels years ago and I have a black leather necklace that matches it.

Should a singing legend of a certain age grow old gracefully or go under the surgeon's knife?
Hayley French, London

Some people say that society is getting more obsessed with youth, but I don't see that. I see plenty of people of my age out having fun and doing the things they have always loved doing. One thing I have never done is go under the knife. I've been lucky, and have always looked after my skin, so that just hasn't been necessary. I had some minor surgery on my eyes for medical reasons, but the only thing I change is my hair. It went grey in my early 20s and I've dyed it ever since. Fortunately it hasn't started falling out - yet.

I hear your father was in the British Army. Did you ever consider a career in the military?
Kirsty Ramsay, Edinburgh

I served two years in the army between 1954 and 1956. I was never tempted to pursue it as a career; I've wanted to be a musician for as long as I can remember. But being in the army helped me to grow up and taught me some important lessons about discipline and hard work, which have helped me to keep my feet firmly on the ground. I used to perform in the mess hall concerts, doing impressions of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr and playing my sax. That was a steep learning curve. You risked heckling and even being booed off stage if you weren't up to scratch. I learned not to take myself too seriously, and earned their respect that way.

As someone who comes from Leicester, I remember with affection your sister's clothes shop on Clarendon Park Road. Do you miss Leicester? And will you come and see us all soon?
Greg Charles, by e-mail

I rarely miss Leicester because I'm there so often - it always has been and always will be my real home. I have a second house in LA, which I use when I'm in the States, but Leicester is where my heart is.

Do your friends call you Engelbert? Or is it Bert? Or Hump?
Claire Kearney, Dublin

My close friends and fans call me Enge, but with a name like mine you have to expect people to be a little unsure what the best abbreviation is. People often go for "Hump" or even "Humpmeister".

When did you give your greatest performance? And, do you think you could still top it?
Gail Timlin, by e-mail

You're only as good as your last performance. I'm constantly re-evaluating and analysing my performances. My new tour back in Vegas will include the words for love songs taken from my new album Let There Be Love on a backdrop behind me so the audience can sing along. I try to make every show different and better.

Let's clear this up. Who had sideburns first - you or Elvis?
Chris Kent, Stockport

I had the sideburns first. And I'm proud to say that Elvis stole them from me. Elvis had a stylist draw a sketch for his new Vegas show. She drew a picture with a high collar and sideburns and Elvis took one look at it and said: "Who do you think I am? Engelbert Humperdinck?" To be honest, so many people were doing the sideburn thing that I decided to shave them off in 1978 for 10 years. I was all over the place with long hair and a moustache. It was only when I grew them back that I felt like myself again.

Engelbert Humperdinck's new album, 'Let There Be Love', is released on Universal

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