Daily O

Engelbert Humperdinck: How a shy Madras boy became pop heart-throb

This month, Engelbert turned 84. But his music has transcended time and generations and his voice continues to reach out to people – serving to transport and inspire, to embrace and to provoke emotions.

In the late 19th century, when German composer Engelbert Humperdinck wrote the opera Hansel and Gretel based on the well-known German fairy tale published in Grimms’ Fairy Tales, he wouldn’t have known that seven decades after the opera premiered, a Madras-born singer would adopt his name professionally and become one of the world’s best balladeers, and a ‘Sex God’ driving the other Gretels mad. The acquired name would not be entirely inappropriate though. The singer’s mother had an operatic voice, and her genetic gift to her son gave him a vocal range of three-and-a-half octaves. The sonority of his voice, capable of conveying a range of strong emotions, could easily have been out of the world of opera.

Engelbert’s real name was Arnold George Dorsey. He was born in Madras in 1936

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