Born Arnold George Dorsey, Engelbert Humperdinck's biggest hits were "Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)" and "After the Lovin'" as well as "The Last Waltz" ("The Last Waltz with You").
He started work as an apprentice engineer and by the early 1950s he was playing the instrument in nightclubs, but he is believed not to have tried singing until he was 17 and friends coaxed him into entering a pub contest. His impression of Jerry Lewis prompted friends to begin calling him "Gerry Dorsey," a name he worked under for almost a decade.
Though Humperdinck's music career was interrupted by his national service in the British Army Royal Corps of Signals during the middle 1950s, he got his first chance to record in 1958 with Decca after his discharge. His first single, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," was not a hit.
In 1965, Humperdinck teamed with his former roommate, Gordon Mills, who had become a music impresario and the manager of Tom Jones. Aware that Humperdinck had been struggling for several years to become successful in the music industry, Mills suggested a name-change to Engelbert Humperdinck, borrowed from the 19th-century composer of such operas as Hansel and Gretel. Mills also arranged a new deal for him with Decca Records.
Humperdinck enjoyed first real success during July 1966 in Belgium, where he and four others represented England in the annual Knokke song contest. Humperdinck appeared on the Belgian charts with "Dommage, Dommage" and an early music video was filmed, with him in the harbour of Zeebrugge.
In early 1967 Humperdinck's version of "Release Me," done in a smooth ballad style with a full chorus joining him on the third chorus, scored the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and scored number one in Britain, keeping The Beatles' adventurous "Strawberry Fields Forever" from entering the top slot in the UK. "Release Me" spent 56 weeks in the Top 50 in a single chart run.
He also recorded a number of successful albums such as Release Me, The Last Waltz, A Man Without Love, and Engelbert Humperdinck. However, The Engelbert Humperdinck Show, flopped and was cancelled after six months.
By the start of the 1970s, Humperdinck had a number of signature songs emerge; "We Made It Happen," "Sweetheart," "Another Time, Another Place," and "Too Beautiful To Last."
Humperdinck concentrated on selling albums and on live performances, developing lavish stage presentations that made him a natural for Las Vegas and similar venues.
In 1976, Humperdinck recorded "After the Lovin'," a ballad released by CBS subsidiary Epic. The song, a Top-10 hit in the U.S., was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was certified Gold, and won the "most played juke box record of the year" award.
The album of the same name reached the Top-20 on the US charts, and was a Double Platinum hit for the singer. Humperdinck followed with a series of albums recorded by for Epic, including This Moment In Time - the title song topped the US adult contemporary charts - and two Christmas albums.
Humperdinck began gaining more creative freedom, and his albums started to include a variety of songs in addition to his traditional ballads. But he kept romance at the core of his music regardless, and his fans still tagged him as "the King of Romance," even as of April 2010.
By the 1980s, approaching his fiftieth birthday, Humperdinck continued recording albums regularly and performing as many as 200 concerts a year. He won a Golden Globe Award as entertainer of the year.
In 1989 he recorded the album Star Of Bethlehem, released as Ich Denk An Dich in Germany. All the songs on the album were written by Dieter Bohlen, and some were written with Barry Mason. Star Of Bethlehem (Ich Denk An Dich) contained the singles "Red Roses For My Lady," "I Wanna Rock You In My Wildest Dreams," and a version of Dieter Bohlen's first hit, from the album Modern Talking, "You're My Heart, You're My Soul."
Humperdinck—who changed his name legally to his stage name at the height of his career —hit the top five British album charts in 2000 with Engelbert At His Very Best, and returned to the top five four years later.
In 2003, Humperdinck collaborated with Grammy Award-Winning artist-producer Art Greenhaw to record the roots gospel album Always Hear the Harmony: The Gospel Sessions. Joining Humperdinck on the album were The Light Crust Doughboys, The Jordanaires and the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. The critically acclaimed album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year.