Growing up in a middle income suburb, my siblings and I had everything growing kids would need. Like so many households in America, the front living room of your house was off limits for children, that’s where our parents kept the good stuff. Only allowed to enter for special events or if we had some special guests, there was no TV or video game consoles in this room. It was where the best looking furniture resided, forgo the plastic covering, thank goodness, along with some fancy looking glass sculptures, a curio cabinet with an extensive collection of owls of all shapes and sizes, a golden plush carpet, a bookcase adorned with images of butterflies, (we were allowed to enter to access the Enclyopedia set of course), family pictures and delicate heirlooms placed lovingly on the side tables. But what caught my eye, or ear, was this new technology recently added to the room. A quadraphonic sound system which utilised 8-track tapes, the equivalent of todays surround sound but back in the 70’s it was revolutionary for a in-home stereo. And when we had the chance to listen to it, it was something special although quite finiky as far as functionality, the record player was much more reliable. I listened to much of my parents music collection, and there were a batch of artist that I enjoyed also, Harry Neilson, Seal and Crofts, Edgar Winter, the Beatles. And this is where I first heard Engelbert, perhaps not my favourite out of my parents collection, but he was right up there. There weren’t many artist in that era with such a gracious sound, Tom Jones comes to mind or the modern day equivalent may be something of a Michael Bublé.
So went into this one, excited to photograph a living legend, still performing with a vocal prowess that very few performers will ever possess at any age. Unbelievable really, for a man at 80 years old, he knocked it out of the park with his trademark style, a solid mix of video presentations, and a highly skilled backing band.
Next time, I’m bringing an 8-track tape to ask him to sign.