As the sun set behind the Starlight Bowl this past Sunday, a legend stepped into the spotlight at the Verdugo Hills amphitheater.
Engelbert Humperdinck, one of the few romantic crooners of the 1950s and ‘60s, who still regularly records and performs, was met with a thunderclap of applause from those who grew up with his music, as well as those who were born long after he was a regular fixture on the pop charts.
With his smoldering good looks and romantic style, Humperdinck earned a worldwide audience of fans, predominantly female, who called him “The King of Romance” and dubbed themselves “Humperdinckers.”
Best-known for his chart-topping hits including “Release Me,” “The Last Waltz” and “A Man Without Love,” Humperdinck became an established star in the 1960s, and, in 1976, released “After the Lovin,” a ballad that broke into the Billboard Top 10, earned him a million-selling gold record, was nominated for a Grammy and was named “the most played jukebox record of the year.”
Today, with four Grammy nominations, a 1988 Entertainer of the Year Golden Globe and 63 gold and 24 platinum records, the man who was born Gerry Dorsey in India 77 years ago — and took the name Engelbert Humperdinck from the 19th-century German composer — proclaims the era of the romantic ballad is alive and well.
“It will never be over,” Humperdinck said. “As long as people love one another and are falling in love, or hope to fall in love, there will always be a place for music of a romantic nature.”
As for the diversity in ages of those who make up his present-day audiences, Humperdinck says he is accustomed to performing to “the very young to you-name-the-age.”
“My audiences are teens on through people in their 90s,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have had longevity in my career, and to have been able to record songs that really meant something to one generation that, in turn, passed them down to where I now have people of all ages appreciating my music — the magic of the songs of love and romance that will never get old.”
Sunday’s special engagement concert at the bowl was produced by Vahe Shahinian, who is best-known locally for his dedicated long-standing work with the Burbank chapter of the Armenian National Committee.
The concert was staged with the assistance of Burbank’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department staffers headed up by the department’s director, Judie Wilke, Deputy Director Gabby Flores and Recreation Supervisor Vickie Cusumano.
The Starlight Bowl’s 2013 summer concert series concludes this coming Sunday with the Led Zeppelin tribute band, Led Zepagain. Tickets are available online at https://www.starlightbowl.com or at the Burbank Community Services Building 150 N. Third St. A limited number of tickets are also available at the box office on the evening of the performance for an additional $2 per ticket.
DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (818) 563-1007.