SCHENECTADY — Curiously adopting the name of a 19th century German opera composer, Englebert Humperdinck climbed the pop music charts of the 1960s and ‘70s, and continues to capture audiences today.
Born Arnold Dorsey, Humperdinck is best known for “Release Me” and “The Last Waltz, ” topped charts in 1967. The former holds the distinction of ending The Beatles’ run of 11 consecutive No. 1 singles, a strech that started four years before. Having sold more than 150 million albums, Humperdinck owns 23 platinum records, 64 gold, a 1989 Golden Globe for “Entertainer of the Year,” and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
However, he is not performing at Proctors Wednesday, May 24. But, Scott Dee, is.
Dee has made a career out of impersonating Humperdinck, traveling the world to entertain fans of “Humps.”
Though Dee stands as tall as Humperdinck, and shares the entertainer’s green eyes, he said it’s still a worthwhile challenge to impersonate the singer that first caught his attention at a young age.
Michael Hallisey: You performed for years before taking on Humperdinck. What inspired you to begin performing as him?
Scott Dee: “I have always been a fan of Engelbert’s and remember vividly hearing “Release Me” as a small boy. It was a voice and melody that stayed with me from that young age. When I went solo in 1992 after playing in bands, I instantly put that classic record breaking song into my repertoire, and it was always so well received by my audiences. So, moving on several years, I became aware of the growing trend in tribute shows; and so, for me Engelbert was a natural progression, a chance to celebrate a man I greatly admired and who has for me an amazing voice and charisma.”
M.H.: As Humperdinck, you have received international attention, but can you describe the kind of reactions you receive from audiences while you are on stage, and off stage?
Dee: “The reactions from audiences are amazing. On stage I receive standing ovations and gasps when I first take to the stage. The resemblance is so close. I am the exact same height and have the green eyes, having the same vocal range ensures I hit the big notes. During meet and greet, I enjoy wonderful compliments from the audience members who queue for autographs and photographs with me. They are really keen to share their enjoyment, almost giving me a similar respect as would be appropriate for the man himself! It is amazing, I love the reactions wherever I go!”
M.H.: It has been years since Humperdinck has charted on contemporary radio, but you see how he only just collaborated with several artists for “Humperdinck Calling” in 2014. He’s still on the minds of everyday people, and obviously garners interest from many fans. How does his music still capture the world today? How does it still capture you?
Dee: “Engelbert’s music has captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world. His style and charisma seems endless. He captured an era that many love to re live — the late 1960s. The nostalgia value in his shows are still selling out venues around the world. He has one of the largest chapters of fan clubs of any artist — some 250 globally. The loyalty of his followers is very evident in the amount of social media correspondence that I receive directly, and observe within the EH world. The songs are timeless classics, and have the durability to still charm audiences. They still appeal with their marvellous quality of lyrics and melody. He has made an incredible lasting impact for sure.”
M.H.: What kind of challenges do you experience as Humperdinck? With emulating his voice or recapturing his stage presence for audiences?
Dee: “I love the challenge of striving to be the very best at what I do. Hitting those big notes and emulating the charm, humor and charisma of a legendary performer is a real buzz. I care passionately about giving a first class performance. My preparation ensures I am confident when I take to the stage. It matters greatly to me that I have a responsibility to almost be an ambassador to Engelbert. I strive to ensure that what I do is complimentary and respectful to him. And, so after many years of studying him, I attempt to make it all look and sound as easy as the great man himself. Believe me, it is not as easy as he makes it look. The energy required in performing for the duration of a show is quite something! But, I love the challenge. It keeps me on my toes!
“I would like to share my pride in having been endorsed personally by Engelbert back in 2011. I had the honor of performing for EH in Vegas at the Paris Hotel on July 20 of that year. He flew my wife and myself out to be his guests for four days. I performed at Engelbert’s celebration party for his award given that day by the Mayor of Las Vegas — his “Star On The Walk Of Fame.” I sang to Enge and his family, friends, management and band members and fans. Over the next few days I was invited to his rehearsals, we were seated with his wife and family at his concerts in the Paris Theatre and enjoyed after-show hospitality with the legend himself. And, the prize endorsement he gave me: “Thank you buddy, you do a great Humpy.” I remain in touch with Enge and have done PR with him in the UK on Radio and TV, and he calls me “Pal” whenever we get together, always advising me to “look after those pipes.” I am truly privileged, proud and delighted to share this with you.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.