After nearly 50 years in the music industry, Engelbert Humperdinck becomes the oldest male artist to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest when he represents the UK with his ballad Love Will Set You Free this Saturday in Baku, Azerbaijan (BBC One).
We caught up with the 76-year-old singer to discover his chances of reviving the nation’s Eurovision fortunes…
It is a honour to take part in Eurovision… I’m patriotic. I’ve served in the British Army and I love my country. My experience might be useful in a contest like this. It’s about professionalism and when you have spent a lot of time on stage playing all over Europe it makes a difference.
The song stands a good chance… It has a good message and melody. It is a Viennese waltz and I’ve had luck with waltzes before. I’ve tried it out at concerts in America and the entire audience stands up afterwards.
I still get nervous… If you become blase, the performance loses sincerity. You need that edge. But I haven’t looked at the competition because it can beat me up a bit psychologically.
I’m happy to be back in the limelight… I know Eurovision has raised my profile and it could give me a renaissance in my career. The response from the public has been unbelievable. People in the street have been wonderful, stopping me to say, ‘Good luck, we are rooting for you.’
I’ve represented my country before… It was at a music contest in Belgium in the 1960s and I sang What Now My Love? I won and at the end, the stage was covered in so many flowers I had to drag my feet to get off. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
The Voice is the best talent show out there… It is fairer than the others because you listen to the voice like you would when you listen to a record. That is how a good singer is born.
I’m glad I stamped my style in the romantic vein rather than rock ’n’ roll which I started in… Romance is important in life. After the Loving was a No 1 platinum song for me and people have told me, ‘We got married to this song and our first baby was manufactured to it’.
I was born Arnold, but nobody calls me that now… Even my mother and father called me Engelbert.