On the Trail of Englebert Humperdinck

I admit, it’s a short trail. I first encountered Englebert Humperdinck in my parents’ record collection, many, many years ago. I thought at the time that anyone with such an improbable name must have something going for him, but for talent, he couldn’t touch Gordon Lightfoot or Neil Diamond.

Years later, and just a few years ago, I was living in Manila when, much to my surprise, someone on my staff mentioned Mr. Humperdinck.  Apparently, the Hump was not only still around, but was coming to town. I didn’t go to the show, but I did learn that Englebert was in fact an invented name.  It’s hard to know why. Still, it was the ’60s.  Or maybe he did really mean to honor the composer of Hänsel and Gretel.

Funny, but I thought little of it until last night, when there he was again, representing the UK in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest (which is a big deal among some folks I know). This is a man with staying power. Sadly, it was little recognized by the voters, who as usual picked an average piece of froth from the annual mix of dreck and the occasional rhinestone.

As is presumably required by now, the artists with some skill, such as Iceland (an Evanescence clone) was overlooked, and Italy (Amy Winehouse wannabe) were ignored along with Mr. Humperdinck. Still for for a guy who’s been singing since 1958, he sounded pretty good. And, according to his website, Jimi Hendrix once opened for him. Not a lot of people still playing can say that.

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