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Great Songs and Music by Gene Pitney
This very talented gentleman known as Gene Pitney was an American singer, songwriter, musician and sound engineer. He had a very successful career both in the U.S. and in the U.K. in the 60s. In the U.S. Pitney scored with 16 Top 40 hits and had four in the Top 10. In the U.K. he did even better scoring 22 Top 40 hits and in the Top Ten 11. He wrote a number of hits which became great successes for other artists in the 60s like “Rubber Ball” for Bobby Vee, “He’s a Rebel” by The Crystals, and “Hello Mary Lou” by Ricky Nelson. Pitney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Gene Pitney’s first chart single which hit the Top 40 was “(I Wanna) Love My Life Away”. On this single he played several instruments and did the vocals. He scored another success singing “Town Without Pity” for the film by the same name starring Kirk Douglas. This song went on to win a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. At the Oscar ceremony in 1962 Pitney sang this song. However the winning song turned out to be “Moon River”.
Another popular hit for Pitney was “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”. In between he continued to write hits for other artists. He came out with the hit “Mecca” in 1963 adding in a blend of Arabian music which included such instruments as a mariachi trumpet, ukuleles, and a gypsy fiddle. The use of these instruments became a Pitney trademark. He went on to great popularity in the U.K. with the hit “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa” which rose up in the charts to number five.
Other hits for Pitney included “It Hurts to Be in Love” and “I’m Gonna Be Strong” in 1964 and “Nobody Needs Your Love” in 1966 He came out with two successful albums in 1965 with country singer George Jones and the two of them were voted to be the most promising country-and-western duo of the year. Pitney was also fluent in other languages and recorded songs in German, Spanish, and Italian. He came in second two times in Italy’s yearly Sanremo Music Festival.
By the time the 60s were coming to an end Pitney scored one last hit in the U.S. with “She’s a Heartbreaker”. His career continued to be successful in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe. In Australia he scored two hits in 1974 “Blue Angel” and “Trans-Canada Highway”. Other hits followed like “Down This Road”.
Pitney’s last hit in the U.K. was in 1969 which was a duet with Marc Almond titled “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart”. It hit number one on the U.K. charts and remained at the top for four weeks. He gave a performance in New York in February of 1993 at Carnegie Hall. Pitney was on tour in the U.K. and performing in Cardiff, Wales when his tour manager found him dead in his hotel room at the Hilton on April 5, 2006. He had ended his show at Cardiff’s St. David’s Hall with a standing ovation and this had become his very final performance.
© 2016 Gypsy Rose Lee