Born Arnold George Dorsey in Madras, British India (present-day Chennai, India) in 1936, Humperdinck’s roots are a rich blend of Welsh, German, and possibly Anglo-Indian descent.
His father, Mervyn Dorsey, a Non-Commissioned Officer in the British Army, hailed from Welsh ancestry. Engelbert’s mother, Olive, on the other hand, was reportedly of German descent, adding another layer of cultural diversity to his familial background. The singer himself has acknowledged this mix of influences, creating a fascinating mosaic of heritage that contributed to shaping the artist we know today.
The Dorsey family, consisting of Engelbert and his nine siblings, eventually relocated to Leicester, England, when he was just ten years old. It was in this vibrant British city that Engelbert’s musical journey began to take shape. Displaying an early interest in music, he delved into the world of melodies by learning to play the saxophone. In the early 1950s, his musical prowess led him to perform in nightclubs, initially showcasing his saxophone skills before embracing his distinctive singing talent.
Interestingly, Engelbert Humperdinck, originally known by the stage name “Gerry Dorsey,” embarked on his musical career as a saxophonist, with his vocal abilities coming to the forefront later in his teens. The adoption of the name “Gerry Dorsey” was influenced by his uncanny impression of the legendary Jerry Lewis, a moniker that stuck with him for almost a decade.