Indonesia Expat had the privilege to interview the world-famous English singer, Engelbert Humperdinck. He will have a show in Jakarta sometime in 2019 at the Double Tree by Hilton Jakarta.
Have you ever been to Indonesia before?
I have had the pleasure of visiting Indonesia many times. On one of those occasions, I had to leave my son and daughter behind and go on with the tour. My youngest boy had to have his appendix out in Jakarta! People were praying outside the hospital with candles… but they thought he was Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi.
What is your favourite song to sing on tour? What do the fans usually want to hear the most?
I am fortunate to have 52 years of material to choose from when I make up my show. It’s hard to make the set list because I have had some amazing writers over the years and everyone has a different favourite. I would say Release Me and The Last Waltz are two songs that I could never let go from my show.
I do love to sing a song from my recent CD release The Man I Want to Be. The song is called I’m Glad I Danced with You. It’s a duet written by my daughter and her partner Tony, and dedicated to my wife, who I met in a dance hall in the late 50s. What makes it even more special is that it is sung with my granddaughter Olivia, who is now ten but was only nine when it was recorded. It was a great success in the show and on public television in the States, where we just released a show which was filmed in Hawaii.
How did you decide to name your tour after your song Angel on My Shoulder?
I really have felt that I have had an angel follow me through life. There were times when I thought my time was up. Once in a tuberculosis hospital when I was a young man, six months of my life was spent watching others not make it in my ward.
I fell in a timber pond as a really young boy and my brother saved me, not only from drowning, but also from the shark infested waters. I’ve also visited several places in the world where my story might have ended, but there was an angel looking out for me for sure. When I heard the song, it was as if the writer had lived and watched my life with me. I think it’s a great tour title… and lucky, I hope!
As one of the longest-standing stars in the music industry, how do you think the industry has changed and how does it affect you?
I’m so grateful that I was not a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder. It takes a great team to get a career going and maintain it. I have worked hard all my life but the writers and that angel and the out of the blue TV appearance with Release Me gave me the opportunity for a global career. (I replaced someone who had fallen ill. It was a show called Sunday Night at The London Palladium. The next day, Release Me started selling 80-100,000 a day). Now, anyone can have global interest in their music without leaving home due to technology, but I think the competition for the limelight is tougher. My audiences are my “spark plugs” and keep coming back for more, which is an amazing incentive to get out the front door!!
After a long career, can you give us your favourite show business anecdote?
It’s a showbiz superstition that has held on throughout the years. If you whistle in my dressing room, you have to go out, turn around three times, use a slang phrase that is ever so slightly off colour, and kick the door before you are allowed back in. Don’t try it but you can look up the dangers of whistling backstage during a show. Bad luck you know!
Photo by Jamie Overton