Go Away With … Engelbert Humperdinck

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
July 19, 2011

With more than 60 gold albums and 24 platinum records, Engelbert Humperdinck has a voice (and name) that is known to generations of fans. The 75-year-old musician’s repertoire of No. 1 hits includes “Release Me,” “There Goes My Everything” and “After the Lovin’.” He’s currently on tour to support his latest CD, “released.” For current dates, check out his website at www.engelbert.com.

Q. Where is home for you?

A. City of Angels. Los Angeles! Was it a chosen location because part of my name in German actually means angel, or was it simply a mere coincidence? Actually, it was a real angel, Jayne Mansfield, who first invited me to her home, if ever I should make it to L.A. in the early days. Years later, I purchased her property, sight unseen, when I made the move from the United Kingdom. “The Pink Palace” became our home for over a quarter of a century and Los Angeles made its mark on my life forever. I return to my home in England as often as I can. With so much family back in Leicester and innate British pride, I don’t think I’d ever give up my open fields and bricks and mortar across the water.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Barbados. When I first made it in the business and forced myself to take a chunk of time away from the road to be with my family, I went to Settlers Beach in Barbados. We would go six weeks at a time with our children, a teacher, my parents, her parents and a friend or two. We’d rent three houses and set up life as if we hadn’t a care in the world or a world to get back to. It was perfect. My beautiful wife, Patricia, and I renewed our wedding vows in Barbados a few years ago. Lord Michael Taylor kindly took us out on his beautiful yacht and as a good friend, played witness to our very emotional ceremony. Even the video was a little shaky but there were so many wonderful memories there in the past that it seemed the perfect place to seal our future together for the second time. Hawaii has always had a hold on me, too. I just loved getting lei’d as soon as you land. I know it’s a tired old line but I never tire of it. I used to get lei’d so many times that I couldn’t see over the flowers. The days of hanging out on the beach with Lana Turner and Tom Selleck and then going out to see Don Ho and other local talent at night started a love affair with the islands. Hawaii is a fragrant, melodious and relaxing favorite destination!

Q. Youʼve traveled so much in your career, what cities or countries have you seen the biggest changes in, for better or worse?

A. When i hear the words “for better or for worse” I immediately think of Vegas! Iʼm not just talking about all the chapels for all the “I doʼs” going on day and night but itʼs a city I have really seen change in the landscape, growth and its focus. It exploded by imploding and out of the ashes of the classic hotels, which held a sentimental spot for so many of us, came a new, family friendly version of Las Vegas. I have to say that I miss the Vegas in the days when I first hit the Strip. The hotels were privately owned and the owners went out of their way to shower you with hospitality. Whatever you wanted they made it their mission to get it. In the current corporate world, every penny has to be accounted for. Today, The Neon Desert has opened its arms wider and welcomed folks who wanted a dash of the likes of the Magic Kingdom mixed in with their martini. My trip to Chennai–formerly Madras–in India, after the tsunami, broke my heart. Iʼve been to war-ravaged places, but when Mother Nature rages it takes your breath away.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. Paris has to be at the top of the list. I spent my honeymoon there without any money. The city and its excitement and romance saved the day. Everything was painted beautiful under the brush stroke of the magic that is Paris. When my music made life easier, I made Paris a luxury break. I took my daughter for a weekend when she was all of 8 or 9. I saw her fall in love with the city, even at that tender age. Of course she was under the impression from me that Maurice Chevalier was singing about her when he charmingly sang “every little breeze seems to whisper Louise”. The father/daughter trip may have seemed an extravagant act, there is no gift greater than that of a memory that lasts a lifetime. I used to own a hotel in La Paz, Baja, called La Posada de Engelbert. It was a short 55 -minute flight from Los Angeles, the perfect getaway. From the minute the wheels touched down, you slowed down and relaxed. The airline knew me so well that they once forgot to check my boarding pass and I ended up going through hell to get to my little slice of heaven.

Q. In what city did you have your first concert?

A. My first concert as who? If you are talking about the young man with a promising career who ended up with TB and got tossed out of the business on his ear? That started in the mid 50s and Iʼm afraid I donʼt recall. When Engelbert Humperdinck first donned his sideburns and hit the spotlight, it was in the mid 60s and if I say I donʼt recall the first city, itʼs only because after I debuted on the TV show “Sunday Night at The London Palladium,” the game was on. My life started right then and there and I was on a fast track to every town, city and country around. So I would have to say that London holds the key to my first ah ha moment when I realized this was the life for me. The City Hall–Newcastle Upon Tyne was just a couple of months after “Release Me” broke and was selling 80-100,00 copies a day. It comes to ind because the people on the bill blew my mind: Jimmy Hendrix, Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam), The Walker Brothers and Noel Redding.

Q. What are your favorite cities?

A. London, Sydney, Moscow, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Prague. Beirut has an honorable mention, not because I had a number one there forever but because it was one of the most beautiful cities I had ever seen. I have passion for peace on this planet so that I can keep adding to the favorite cities list and travel to more of the amazing destinations in this world.

Q. Where have you traveled that most reminded you of back home?

A. Sydney feels the most like home. I have a lot of family there and with all the English people living there, too, it’s like London wrapped up in a tan and placed on the beach.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been before?

A. Venice. I have a huge painting of the gondolas and the incredible city. It’s at the top of my stairs. It’s the last thing I see as I go to sleep, aside from my wife, and it slips into my dreams quite often.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. You’re asking a man who would travel with 17 trunks and suitcases. These days, I make a list and whatever fits into my Bond-like expandable briefcase is probably enough to hold me over if I ever got stranded anywhere. The list includes my iPhone to keep in touch, my credit cards to pay for the iPhone bill, my cologne, a signature scent that will let anyone know that I am around, and probably my most must-have item — the British crossword from The Mirror newspaper.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. Since my trips are usually business related for either concerts, promotion or recording, the research is done by a team of promoters, agents, managers, and travel agents. Iʼve got a few cities in my weather app on my phone, so I know if there is enough snow in Austria or sun in Hawaii or rain at home when I want to take a vacation from everything and turn on the darts match!

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. Fouquet’s in Paris, Dee Bee’s Cafe in Double Bay, Sydney, Woo Lae Oak for Korean in Beverly Hills, Saketini, a tiny treasure in Brentwood for the best fish and calamari salad and Swatlands Indian Restaurant in my hometown of Leicester, England, which has the best curry. I get them to cater my family gatherings; and the Yews in Great Glen, Leicester, for great pub food and friendly locals.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you are on the road?

A. Eating a crisp at the bone rack of lamb, drinking a glass or two of Opus and keeping the telly on all night. When Iʼm on the tour bus itʼs crazy 8ʼs for hours!

Q. What is your best and worse vacation memory?

A. Settling into Settlers Beach in Barbados for six weeks when my parents were alive. There was great water-skiing, good eating and sharing it all with family. That is my best vacation memory. The worst was having to go to Antigua when Barbados was sold out. I stayed 12 hours and left.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. Itʼs probably easier to answer this question than favorite places I have visited because aside from the venues where I performed, usually the only other place i saw was the hotel. If my personal assistant of the last 30 plus years were in charge of booking my dates, heʼd do it by referring to his list of favorite hotels. Off the top of my head, which i have laid on many a hotel pillow around the world, Iʼd have to say: Maxims Genting hotel in the Genting Highlands, Malaysia, where you drive through the clouds as you climb the mountain serenaded by the monkeys in the trees all around. The Stamford Plaza in Double Bay, Sydney. The Sheraton Mirage, Port Douglas, far north Queensland with its acres of connecting pool made into a lagoon which your room opens up to. It’s all connected by bridges featuring a beautiful man-made shark and jellyfish-free beach. My son, Scott, was married in the area. It’s a great vacation spot where we also spent Christmas one year. The Hotel de la Tremoille in Paris. Itʼs across the way from one of the many worldwide exclusive boutiques of my long time ami Franck Namani and in the golden triangle. Perfect location and a classic luxury destination. Hotel Plaza Athenee is my guilty pleasure because it’s breathtaking! Hotel Le Palais Prague in the Czech Republic.The River Rock Resort in Vancouver and Casino Rama in Ontario Canada with their Native American/American theme lodge rooms with fire places in each and state of the art 5000 seater venue. Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow. Moscow was just immaculate. The Taj in India. The Marriott Renaissance in Maui and the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu.The Hilton Hawaiian Village for its child friendly programs and the memory of me holding Lisa Marie Presley for the first time. Itʼs in my book and definitely a story worth the read. Shangri-la in Kuala Lumpur where they had a Christmas tree that was three or four stories high and made out of glass bowls filled with live goldfish! The Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong and Tai Pai. The Hiltons in the Far and Middle East and The Trump Towers in New York City. Looking forward to staying at the Paris hotel in Vegas, but I sure do miss the Elvis Suite in the Hilton Hotel, which used to have five bedrooms, a kitchen a jacuzzi, a bar, a piano and a whole lotta shakinʼ going on!


© 2011 JAE-HA KIM


Comments (1)

  1. ehnat0502 says:

    Thank you, Enge and Jae-Ha Kim for this wonderful article! It is always such a treat to read about him! At his very MOMENT IN TIME, Enge is receiving a KEY TO THE CITY OF LAS VEGAS and the 55th STAR on the LAS VEGAS WALK OF STARS! I can feel the excitement all the way from Vegas! The fans are at a fever pitch of excitement! There is an exclusive party to celebrate! Enge will be appearing in concert at the PARIS in Vegas from July 21st through July 24th! Please more, more, more great interviews and articles about our beloved Enge! <3

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