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Engelbert Humperdinck on 50 years in showbiz and a long-running feud with Tom Jones

What are your thoughts looking back at 50 years in showbiz?

It feels awfully good — and those who haven’t experienced my music before can now as all my Decca albums have been released in one package. I hope it will bring my music back into vogue. We’re celebrating Release Me as it was my biggest hit.

Did you ever get fed up doing ballads?

I’ve done other things — I like a challenge. I did Lesbian Seagull for Beavis And Butthead. I liked that because it made a change from what I normally do. It’s not on the new compilation as it wasn’t recorded for Decca.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Las Vegas was very good to me. At one time, I was doing two shows a night there. Another highlight has been selling more than 150million albums — not many artists do that. Having a star on the Walk Of Fame in both Las Vegas and Leicester [his hometown] has been a coup.

Are you big anywhere unexpected?

I play Lebanon quite a lot. I learned to sing in Spanish so I like performing in South America. And I’m performing in Iceland for the first time soon.

You were friends with Elvis. What advice did he give you?

I learned a lot from him. He was humble and didn’t take his image seriously, which was surprising because he was very flamboyant — so I learned from him not to take my image too seriously. He was charismatic, a lovely man. He was the best stage performer I ever saw. When he appeared in Vegas, I’d go to see him and he’d come to see me.

Long-running feud: Tom Jones

You owned Jayne Mansfield’s house. Did you see her ghost?

Yes, it sounds crazy but I did. I’ve smelled her perfume and I’ve been in her company, so I know what it smelled like. I often saw a figure wearing a long black dress walk down the stairs but it would disappear before it reached the bottom. I was with her two weeks before she died, which prompted me to buy the house — I thought it was destiny. It was a beautiful house with big chandeliers and the heart-shaped swimming pool. My children grew up in it.

Do you get much use out of the pub you built at your home in Leicester?

It’s a lovely little thing. We have four cottages on the property and turned one into a pub but it’s just for family and friends, it’s not open to the public. I do like a good bitter. My favourite is Doom Bar and there’s one called Steamin’ Billy. When I have a party, I get a barrel of Steamin’ Billy.

You represented the UK in Eurovision in 2012. Did you watch the last one?

No, I don’t watch it. It’s very political. The UK will never be up there again because the competition is too controlled. No matter how much talent you send out there from the UK, nothing will come of it.

Change: Beavis And Butthead

You said your result of 25th place with 12 points was down to political voting. Do you still think that’s the case?

Yes. How can you put a person on who is a global artist when there are people there who don’t have record contracts and have never appeared in an arena before and win a music contest? There was a group of Russian grannies who were cooking when they were singing. How does that make sense? And they came second.

Have you read Tom Jones’s autobiography?

No. I’ve heard he said some nasty things about me [Jones said of Humperdinck ‘once a c***, always a c***’ in a 2015 Metro interview]. I think he’s a very good artist and whatever he says about me is down to him. That’s as far as I can go. I know he has talent, if he didn’t he wouldn’t be where he is. And if I didn’t have talent, I wouldn’t be where I am.

Will the feud ever end?

I don’t think so. It’d be OK as far as I’m concerned but I don’t think he feels the same way. It’s sad but I’ve got plenty of other friends.

What lessons has your career in showbiz taught you?

If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.

Engelbert Humperdinck: 50 and Engelbert Humperdinck The Complete Decca Studio Albums are available now