Elvis Presley would have turned 80 in this past week and a man who knew him well and considered him one of his closest friends was Engelbert Humperdinck.
Engelbert was a few years younger than Elvis and befriended the American legend when he first broke into the USA in the mid 60s. They remained the closest of friends until Elvis’ death in 1977.
“He was wonderful, one of the dearest people I have met in my life,” Engelbert tells Noise11.com. “He was one of the most kind-hearted, benevolent people you will ever come across. He would be driving in his car and see somebody on the street in bare feet and whatever he had in his pocket he would take and give it to them and say ‘get yourself a pair of shoes’. He was that kind of guy”.
Elvis met Engelbert when he came to an Engelbert show. “The first time I met him he had come to meet me,” Engelbert said. “He came to see my show first before I went to see him. Believe me, it took me a good 10 minutes to quiten the audience down once I introduced him. He stood up and he had a cape on and he opened the cape as he stood in the booth in Las Vegas with the cape open like Batman. The audience went absolutely berserk and I said “shhhh, this is my show”. No, I couldn’t quieten then down. So I brought out some of my big gun songs to try and quieten then down which I did in the end. He came backstage and he said “thank you very much, what a great show”. This is how humble he was. He said, “thank you for introducing me”. Elvis! I said “Elvis, I can’t thank you enough for being at my show”. He was such a nice guy, a very nice guy.
Elvis copied his trademark sideburns from Engelbert. “I had them in 1965 and Elvis put his on in 1972,” Engelbert said. “The true story is this … he had a lady sketching him to find an outfit for him to go on his world tour. That’s where the white jump suit came in. She designed this white jumpsuit with the high collar and the long black side-burns. She presented it to him and he went (in Elvis voice) “Hell, that’s not me, that’s Engelbert Humperdinck”. So therefore you know who had it first”.
Engelbert also said that one of Elvis’ biggest problems was the wrong people around him. “I think he was mishandled by his friends and he was a great loss to our industry,” he said.
Elvis would have been 80 on January 8, 2015. Engelbert will turn 80 on May 2, 2016.
Engelbert Humperdinck, the Noise11 interview
Watch the video on Noise11.com: Engelbert Humperdinck