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Ten Things About... Engelbert Humperdinck

By
Engelbert Humperdinck

© BBC

So it wasn't to be Eternal, or Sugababes 1.0, or even Atomic Kitten. Despite all the swirling girlband rumors, the UK's representative at this year's Eurovision Song Contest is the 75-year-old Engelbert Humperdinck.

We're delighted with the pick of the 'dinck, but for those of a younger generation who may not be aware of his past glories, we thought it prudent to dig out ten little facts you may not have known about him.

1. As you might have guessed, that wasn't always his name. Engelbert was born Arnold George Dorsey on May 2, 1936 in Madras, India - one of ten kids to British Army officer dad Mervyn and mum Olive.

2. Arnold's family moved to Leicester when he was 10 and he soon started learning the sax. He switched to singing when he was 17 and his impressions of comedian Jerry Lewis earned him the nickname 'Gerry Dorsey', which he recorded under for a decade including his debut single 'Crazy Bells'.

3. One of Engelbert's early jobs was making shoes. "I operated a lathe in a boot factory when I was 16," he revealed to a newspaper in 1981. "That job had a lot of sole.". Ooof!

4. Ex-roommate Gordon Mills became Dorsey's manager and somehow convinced him to take the name of the 19th century German Hänsel und Gretel opera composer. Unbelievably, it stuck.



5. Eurovision won't be the first time Engelbert has represented his country. Alongside Truly Smith, Chloe Walters, Eden Kane and Jimmy Wilson, he sung for England in the annual Knokke - Heist song festival in Belgium in July 1966.

6. Engelbert's most famous moment came in 1967 with a version of the much-covered 'Release Me'. The song ended The Beatles' 11-track run of #1 singles which had started in 1963 with 'From Me To You'. The double A-side 'Penny Lane'/'Strawberry Fields Forever' stalled at number two, and Humperdinck's 'Release Me' went on to sell over a million copies.

7. Despite being well past retirement age, Humperdinck is still down with the kids. In 1996, he covered Tom Wilson's 'Lesbian Seagull' for the soundtrack of 1996 comedy Beavis and Butt-head Do America. As well as featuring on the soundtrack, the track was released on the other side of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Love Rollercoaster' single.



8. Even if Engelbert misses out on Eurovision glory, he's had plenty of success in his career to soften the blow. As well as 23 platinum records and 64 gold, he was given a Golden Globe for 'Entertainer of the Year' in 1989, the same year he got his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

9. But don't call him a crooner! "If you are not a crooner it's something you don't want to be called," he once told The Hollywood Reporter. "No crooner has the range I have can hit notes a bank couldn't cash. What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylized performer."

10. Gordon Mills, the man who dubbed him Humperdinck, later went on to launch a certain Tom Jones and Engelbert and Tom have had a healthy rivalry since then. Though, Humperdinck is no fan of getting the Tom Jones treatment from fans when performing. ''I hate it when they throw their bras at me, their panties," he told Aresnio Hall. "It's such a waste. None of them fit me." Zing!

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