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Crooner from the 1960s still singing

POSTED: August 25, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Arnold Dorsey is going to appear in concert in Atlanta next month. Arnold is now 77 and apparently still a pretty good singer.

Somebody in the music business told Arnold his name might hold him back from great success, so he changed it to Englebert Humperdinck.

The original Englebert Humperdinck wrote the German opera “Hansel and Gretel.” Apparently, the original Humperdinck’s family doesn’t take too kindly to Arnold using his name. When he appears in Germany, he can’t use the last name, only Englebert.

Englebert, the latter, burst on the U.S. music scene when he recorded “Release Me,” a song first released as a country hit by Ray Price and as a rhythm and blues ballad by Little Esther Phillips. Englebert’s U.S. debut happened about the same time as Tom Jones, the Welsh wailer who was a bit more up tempo than Englebert. Comedians used to joke that Jones sold more records than Humperdinck, because it took so long to ask for his record at the store.

The last sentence reminds me some people do not know what I’m talking about. We used to play music on 45 rpm single records and 33 rpm albums. When you wanted to hear a single, you would go to the record store and give it a listen. In Monroe, it was the Music and Camera Shop, owned by Edward Peters. You could look at the latest charts and Mr. Edward would give your tune of choice a spin. If you liked it, you could buy it for about a buck.

But Englebert’s popularity was not among the teen set. It was largely among women in their 30s and 40s. Jones and Humperdinck were handsome and the ladies turned out in droves to see them.

Doing a little math, I realized we are about 45 years past the high-profile days of these two singers from across the pond. That means their fan base is some where between ages 75 and 85. In their heyday, women threw panties on stage for Tom and Englebert. The thought of a woman of 80 doing such a thing ... well, you can draw your own conclusions.

Women also used to scream at the two stars. Once again, an elderly woman screaming at a concert might be a bit disconcerting. I hope the fan base for Englebert may have expanded to include folks from the ensuing generations. Or at least they might go along to chaperone their screaming, panty-throwing mamas.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.


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