By Bob Andelman
October 24, 1986
Anyone who would change his name from Arnold George Dorsey to Engelbert Humperdinck has to have a sense of humor.
He does. The sexy, energetic 50 year old English singer with 250 of the most rabid fan clubs in popular music – organizations where mature women gather under rather unusual banners has to be ticklish.
“If you saw some of the names of these fan clubs, you’d die laughing” Humerdinck says by telephone from Las Vegas. Get ready to keel over. There’s the “Humpedears,” “Humps Heaven “ “Eternally Engelbert” and “You Made It Happen in Chicagoland, Enge!” to name a few.
Esquire magazine columnist Bob Greene examined the Humperdinck fan club mystique last November in his “American Beat” column. He followed Humperdinck to a post-concert cruise in the Windy City with members of the “You Made It Happen in Chicagoland, Enge!” fan club.
ENGLEBERT HUMPERDINCK podcast excerpt: “I get pretty embarrassed when they throw those panties on stage. It’s just a waste of time because none of them fit me. They throw keys up – I try to remember the numbers. A lot of people ask me, ‘How do you deal with all of these women?’ And I say, ‘One at a time.’”
The profile was not flattering; as the singer bounced from being mistaken for a comedian to autographing a woman’s breast with a black pen to admitting he “can’t fall asleep unless there’s a light on”.
“Oh, yeah. It wasn’t too good” Humperdinck sap of Greene’s column. “That wasn’t a true reading – writing – of the fan clubs. I don’t know why (writers) do that Our fan clubs are very nice people and very respectable. That’s one of the reasons they are still around after all this time. That’s one of the reasons why I’m still around. They’re my spark plugs and I don’t disrespect them.”
Just in case this reporter didn’t get the point, Humperdinck adds, ‘“That’s my private army out there. They get militant if anyone writes bad things about me.”
The critics may get a load of new ammunition next fall, when Humperdinck hopes to star in a TV detective series a Is “‘Magnum P.I.”
‘“This is something I’ve been ranting to do for a long time” he says. “I just want to be seen by the masses now. I’ve been touring for a long time. I want to get a viewing of 40 million people instead of 5,000 to l0,000 a night.
“Y’know, you catr do show after show after show and do great shows,” he continues. ‘You come off elated – but it’s only in the minds of the people for that night But when you do film, it’s there for posterity.”
While he waits for video opportunity to knock, Humperdinck says he has overhauled his stage show.
Humperdinck has augmented familiar music in his act such as “Release Me” and “After the Lovin’ “with versions of Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher,” Billy Ocean’s “Loverboy” and Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind.”
Like Tom Jones, Humperdinck’s reputation was built partly upon the offerings of room keys and panties from women in the audience.
“I speak two languages on stage,” he says of it. “I speak the language of love and body language. Between the wo it becomes sexual, y’know – I don’t know how to put it.”
Enge – as his fans call him – thinks the day of lust-crazed women tossing personal items to him on stage has passed.
Or has it? Remember that a guy named Humperdinck needs a sense of humor.
“I get pretty embarrassed when they throw those panties on stage,” he says. “It’s just a waste of time because none of them fit me. They throw keys up – I try to remember the numbers.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘How do you deal with all of these women?’ And I say, ‘One at a time.’”