The lovin’ of singing about romance has never gotten old for Engelbert Humperdinck, who turned 77 in May.
Known for such hits as “Release Me,” “After the Lovin’ ” and “This Moment in Time,” the Briton who was born in India and raised in England will croon the evening away at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach.
Before departing last week on a Southeastern states tour, Humperdinck – the former Arnold George Dorsey, who took his name after the late Austrian composer of the opera “Hansel and Gretel” – spoke by telephone from his U.S. home in Los Angeles about the true love he’s derived from age – on stage and with his family.
He said romance hasn’t shifted much through his five decades of performing around the world, but “the only way it has changed” has come in the gender breakdown in the seats.
“When I came into the business,” Humperdinck said, “the audiences were like 80 percent ladies and 20 percent men. Now, it’s a 50-50 thing, which is rather nice. ...
“Usually, it’s the men who stand up first, and it’s wonderful that they appreciate my music.”
Asked whether he has aged with his audience more than the fans have grown up with him, or vice versa, Humperdinck called himself lucky.
“The parents who fell in love with my music came brought their kids, and now their kids come to the shows,” he said. “And it was a chain reaction. Now we have three or four generations of people who have grown up with this music.”
Humperdinck, married for more than 45 years with four children and nine grandchildren, agreed that singing about love his whole career has made it easier to keep it in the center of his life.
No acting romantic
“You cannot act being romantic for 46 years,” he said. “I think it has to be inside you.”
Melding that feeling with melodies clicked with him, “because I think romance is what makes the world go ‘round, and that kind of music will never die.”
Humperdinck also keeps a residence in his homeland, where he served in the British Army after high school. He voiced his love of visiting “that wonderful town where my children have grown up and gone to school.”
Returning home for Christmas and New Year’s remains a tradition, said Humperdinck, proud of his big family roots, with seven sisters and two brothers, but still mourning the loss of one sibling.
Although he said he hasn’t been paid a call to India lately, Humperdinck toured there to help with tsunami relief last decade, and he revisited his birthplace, where he lived his first few years while his father was a British soldier based there, before Indian independence in 1947.
Humperdinck recounted “fond memories” of India, glad to see it grow and thrive as “a great country” in his lifetime.
Going around the globe, Humperdinck, who sported long, wide sideburns and donned jumpsuits before Elvis Presley shook up the music world, said the era of expressions made by female fans throwing personal garments to him on stage has longed passed.
“I always make the remark that it’s such a waste of time,” he said, “because none of them fit me.”
Still, Humperdinck called that heyday “wonderful,” but he most appreciates folks who “come to hear my music.”
“They still rush the stage,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see that.”
He said the pleasure from performing still gives him his own rush.
“You cannot explain the kinds of feeling that I get,” Humperdinck said.
Duets CD due out soon
About a year has gone into piecing together numbers for his duets CD, “Engelbert Calling,” due for release in October. The special guests include William “Smokey” Robinson, Kenny Rogers and Neil Sedaka.
Humperdinck recalled writing to “my friends in the industry” in a pitch for partners behind the mic and that Sir Elton John replied first.
“It was amazing to be in the studio with this giant of a man and performer,” Humperdinck said, ”and a wonderful person at heart.”
Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Canterbury, giving birth in July to Prince George also heightened Humperdinck’s Union Jack spirit.
“That couple is just unbelievable,” he said, praising their means of mingling and renewing public interest in, and respect for, Great Britain’s House of Windsor “so well.”
“People just fall in love with their attitude and their way of thinking,” Humperdinck said. “And I love the royal family, and I love what they do and stand for.”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.