May 2, 2008

Happy B-Day, Hump!

Thanks to fellow Sinatraphile Michael Suzich for bringing to my attention the fact that today is Engelbert Humperdinck's 72nd birthday. In fact, Michael and co-workers are no doubt having their annual E.H. birthday celebration right about now. Incredibly, that is a stage name. Brave, to say the least. Along with Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, and Jack Jones, he's one of the last of the old-time crooners. The singer of "Lesbian Seagull," Humperdinck has the singular honor of preventing The Beatles from making it to the number one chart position with their groundbreaking, double-whammy, "Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane." According to Humperdinck's Wikidpedia entry:

Humperdinck's version of "Release Me," done in a smooth ballad style with a full chorus joining him on the third chorus, reached the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and went to number one in Britain, keeping The Beatles' adventurous "Strawberry Fields" from entering the top slot in the UK. "Release Me" also went on to become the longest running chart single in history. It spent 56 weeks in the Top 50 in a single chart run, a record that still holds to this day.

Even in a year dominated by psychedelic rock music, "Release Me"'s success may not have been that surprising, considering Frank Sinatra's chart comeback that began a year earlier, and stablemate Tom Jones's success with a ballad or two in the interim, both of which probably opened some new room for more traditionally-styled singers. "Release Me" was believed to sell 85,000 copies a day at the height of its popularity, and the song became the singer's signature song for many years.



And here is a charming clip of "Hump" and Dean Martin singing "Crosby, Sinatra, and Me":

5 comments:

Leslie said...

Have you ever read/seen/heard Eddie Izzard's rant on how Engelbert Humperdinck got his name? If you haven't, you've got to see it - it's CLASSIC! (I think Eddie Izzard's "Dress to Kill" is a classic that everyone should own!) But I love EH and his version of "Release Me" was one of my Nana's favorite songs...

Chris said...

I've not seen that Eddie Izzard performance. I'll YouTube it and see if I can find it. And the Hump is aight. If I remember correctly, we are of the same generation, so our group of grandparents would have been his main audience!

Blognor Regis said...

Likewise, EH was game enough to be in one of Peter Kay's "No nonsense" John Smith's Beer adverts a year or so back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6nW4Wo7fD0

("Top bombing" is another classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mx3_MpwFJI)

Peter Kay seems to be an unabased fan of the crooners and pretty much singlehandedly revived the career of Tony Christie.

Josh Sirten said...

Completely off topic for this particular discussion, but...

Did you tune into TCM last night to catch the beginning of Sinatra-month?

Of course you did. Keep up the great blog!

JS

Chris said...

Hump is definitely not afraid to play around with his image, unlike Sinatra. I can't imagine Sinatra doing something like that.

I wish I had TCM, but my current cable package doesn't include it. Although it looks like I've only missed the cheesy war movies (other than From Here to Eternity), so I haven't missed much!