He was forced to abandon his musical dream to complete his national service in the 1950s, before being struck down by tuberculosis just a few years later, but Engelbert Humperdinck has no regrets about the difficult decade of his life. In fact, he says it shaped him as a person.
The 82-year-old singer shot to fame in the 1960s with hits including ‘Release Me’ and ‘The Last Waltz’, soon catapulting him to worldwide fame throughout the ’70s too. But his time in the spotlight was delayed somewhat by his stint in the army.
Now, as debate rages between many over whether national service should be made compulsory again, Engelbert has revealed that while serving in the British Army Royal Corps of Signals during the mid-50s changed his life for the better, he thinks keeping it voluntary is best.
“It was something I had to do and I enjoyed it,” he said of his national service. “I think it made me a better person and more of a man in caring and sharing, that sort of thing. You have good pals and I kept up with them even when I left the army.”
Asked if he believes compulsory national service should be reintroduced, he added: “I think volunteering is the way to go in today’s world. As long as it’s a peaceful world, why put people through that.”
Following his discharge, Engelbert got his first chance to record in 1958 with Decca Records, soon releasing single ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’. It failed to become a hit, but it re-started his love of music and performing.
From there he began performing regularly in pubs and clubs across the UK, but had to stall his career once again in 1961 when he was stricken with tuberculosis.
“My God, it was a long time ago!” He recalled. “I was six months in hospital and I had about a year of convalescence. Thank God I recovered from it because there was really no cure at the time. I was very worried.”
Engelbert was treated at the time with pills and injections in the hopes he’d pull through – leagues away from the treatment people can receive now.
“My parents were very worried at the time,” he admitted.
Following his recovery his career soared and he’s remained a famous name ever since, continuing to perform live now and enjoying his biggest passion with shows right across the world.
The singer is now preparing to return to Australia, with his ‘The Man I Want To Be’ tour set to land down under in March 2019. He will be performing in iconic theatres around the country, showcasing new music as well as hits including ‘Quando Quando Quando’, ‘Release Me’, ‘A Man Without Love’, ‘The Last Waltz’ and ‘Am I That Easy To Forget’.
To buy tickets for his Aussie tour, visit the official site here.