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Arnold George Dorsey (born May 2, 1936 in Madras, India) is a well-known pop singer of the 1950s-present. Of Anglo Indian ethnicity, he was raised in Leicester, England and adopted the stage name Engelbert Humperdinck, after the famous German opera composer. Dorsey has sold about 150 million records and has established himself as one of the world's premiere live performers in a number of sold-out tours.
Arnold George Dorsey and his family, which included nine brothers and sisters, moved to England in 1947. His father served in the British military, and his mother taught violin and had an operatic voice. When they lived in Leicester, young Arnold Dorsey became interested in music at age 11 and began to study saxophone. He was singing in nightclubs during the early 1950s, the first of which was a family ballad, according to Humperdinck. He moved to the United States in the mid-1950s, where he became well-known for his music. He almost gave up singing in the early sixties when he contracted tuberculosis. Engelbert was influenced by Johnny Mathis among other greats.
At 17, Arnold found himself playing at a UK pub that sponsored a singing contest. Goaded by his friends to enter, he put down his sax and for the first time revealed another vocal talent: impersonations. He gave a fine impression of Jerry Lee Lewis and was quickly dubbed "Gerry" Dorsey by his friends. It became his professional stage name and he never picked up the sax again.
Gerry was very popular on the UK music circuit until he contracted tuberculosis, which silenced him for six months and nearly snuffed out his rising star. Many people assumed his career was finished. Upon regaining his health, he knew he had to bury his old, somewhat tainted image to make a comeback as a strong, dynamic performer.
Meeting his old flat mate, Gordon Mills in 1965 led to a change of direction, career and name. Mills was a clever manager and promoter who knew that a performer had to call attention to himself in any way possible. His idea for Gerry was to change his name to something that people would remember. He convinced Gerry that an audience would never forget the name "Engelbert Humperdinck", the name of the Austrian composer who wrote "Hansel and Gretel". Mills also helped him secure a recording deal with Decca Records.
Engelbert has frequently been likened to Tom Jones because of their smooth, pop style. The two even shared the same manager, Gordon Mills, for a short time. However, his career declined for a while, partly due to the British invasion of the early 1960s, not reaching its height until 1967.
In that year, Humperdinck cut a single, "Release Me", and the result was an almost instant success for the singer. The song quickly hit the number-one slot on the British music charts, beating The Beatles song, Strawberry Fields Forever, and this success was reflected on the U.S. music charts as well. At its peak, the "Release Me" single sold an unprecedented 85,000 copies daily, and the slow, powerful ballad became Humperdinck's signature tune.
Almost immediately, Humperdinck began to amass legions of devoted fans, many of them female. On these grounds, coupled with the fact that most of Humperdinck's recordings are love songs, some critics immediately dismissed the singer as a mere "crooner." While Humperdinck cannot be said to have made significant musical innovations, the freshness, energy, and range of his delivery set him apart from other show business Romeos. As Humperdinck told the Hollywood Reporter's Rick Sherwood, "If you are not a crooner, it's something you don't want to be called. No crooner has the range I have. I can hit notes a bank couldn't cash. What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylized performer."
Career in the 1960s and 1970s
Throughout the rest of the 1960s and into the 1970s, Humperdinck continued to produce million-selling albums of love songs, and developed increasingly more extravagant stage shows, sometimes over one hundred per year. While the mood of Top 40 radio quickly changed, Humperdinck's music, more akin to Broadway show tunes than post-Beatles rock, did not. Subsequently, Humperdinck's live performances became more crucial in reaching his fans, and the singer responded by producing lavish, energetic extravaganzas that set the standards for Las Vegas-style glamour. "I don't like to give people what they have already seen," Humperdinck was quoted as saying in a 1992 tourbook. "I take the job description of 'entertainer' very seriously! I try to bring a sparkle that people don't expect and I get the biggest kick from hearing someone say 'I had no idea you could do that!'"
By the late 1960s, Engelbert Humperdinck fan clubs had begun to sprout around the globe. By the next decade, the fan mania had grown to giant proportions, reportedly the largest such club in the world, with chapters including "Our World is Engelbert," "Engelbert...We Believe in You," and "Love is All for Enge." While an occasional fan ventured into the realm of obsession-several fanatics claimed to have been pregnant with the singer's offspring-Humperdinck's following of a reported eight million members guaranteed record sales with limited radio air play. "They are very loyal to me and very militant as far as my reputation is concerned," Humperdinck said of his devotees to Sherwood. "I call them the spark plugs of my success." He hosted a variety show in 1970, based on Tom Jones' extremely popular series This Is Tom Jones. Engelbert's show was cancelled after six months. Humperdinck has always enjoyed a healthy rivalry with Tom Jones.
The release of the album After the Lovin' in 1976 was a relative watershed in Humperdinck's career. In addition, the album received a nomination for a Grammy Award, the first major nod Humperdinck had received from critical corners. Perhaps part of the reason behind Humperdinck's critical neglect stemmed from his lack of involvement with the recording of albums, whereas he had so much control over live presentation. Until the late 1980s, Humperdinck had little say in which songs were selected for each album, a fact that might have supported claims that he was little more than a pawn of his label's executives. Over the years, this arrangement slowly changed, giving Humperdinck full creative freedom. Humperdinck's albums began to cover more musical terrain than ballads alone.
1980s to present
By the 1980s, Humperdinck was fast approaching his fifth decade of life, yet he was still producing albums regularly, performing sometimes more than 200 concerts in a year, and he was still a source of attraction for his female fans. Despite all this, Humperdinck had managed to maintain a solid family life with his wife, Patricia. Perhaps a mixture of business and pleasure had contributed to this success: Humperdinck's four children are involved in their father's career in some way. A truly jet-set family, the Humperdinck/Dorsey clan shuttled between homes in England and Beverly Hills, California, where Humperdinck had purchased the Pink Palace, a lush mansion once owned by film star Jayne Mansfield, which he put up for sale at least once, but it is not clear if he stills lives there or not.
In 1989, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Entertainer of the Year. He had met Queen Elizabeth II and several American presidents. Still, he retained his element of humanism, and began major involvement in charity foundations. In addition to involvement with The Leukemia Research Fund, the American Red Cross, and the American Lung Association, Humperdinck contributed to several AIDS relief organizations. For one of these, Reach Out, Humperdinck even penned and performed an anthem for the organization's mission, called "Reach Out." As longtime friend Clifford Elson said of Humperdinck, "[h]e's a gentleman in a business that's not full of many gentlemen."
He is a patron of the charity County Air Ambulance, which is based in the East Midlands of England. In August 2005 he put up his Harley-Davidson motorcycle up for auction on eBay to raise money for the Air Ambulance and other charities in Leicestershire. 
In Germany and Austria, Dorsey is simply known as Engelbert. The heirs of the romantic composer Engelbert Humperdinck had sued him for adopting his stage name, as they are not related to each other.
∙ "Am I That Easy to Forget?"
∙ "Release Me"
∙ "The Last Waltz"
∙ "Misty Blue"
∙ "After the Lovin'"
∙ "Quando Quando'"
∙ "Lesbian Seagull'" (from the soundtrack of Beavis and Butt-head Do America)
∙ "Spanish Eyes"
Top 50 Hits in the U.S. (partial list)
∙ "Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)" — #4, 1967
∙ "There Goes My Everything" — #20, 1967
∙ "The Last Waltz" — #25, 1967
∙ "Am I That Easy To Forget" — #18, 1968 (#1 Adult Contemporary hit for 1 week)
∙ "A Man Without Love (Quando M'Innamoro)" — #19, 1968
∙ "Les Bicyclettes De Belsize" — #31, 1968
∙ "The Way It Used To Be" — #42, 1969
∙ "I'm A Better Man" — #38, 1969
∙ "Winter World Of Love" — #16, 1970
∙ "My Marie" — #43, 1970
∙ "Sweetheart" — #47, 1970
∙ "When There's No You" — #45, 1971 (#1 Adult Contemporary hit for 1 week)
∙ "Another Time, Another Place" — #43, 1971
∙ "After The Lovin'" — #8, 1977 (#1 Adult Contemporary hit for 2 weeks)
Humperdinck had one additional #1 hit on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart, "This Moment In Time," which reached only #58 Pop in early 1979.
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