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Great Songs and Music by Gene Pitney

Updated on September 17, 2017
Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

I'm a writer, a poet, a dreamer. Born and raised in New York City. I live in the suburbs of Riga, Latvia. I have a wonderful cat named Sid.

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


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    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 19 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      I do believe his songs are more popular than his name. Yes, that is a really great story Shauna.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 19 months ago from Central Florida

      Rasma, Gene Pitney doesn't ring a bell with me, although the songs he wrote for others do. However, I do remember hearing "Town Without Pity".

      A little tidbit: my Uncle John was good friends with George Jones. At one of his concerts my uncle yelled out in the crowd and George yelled back, " is that you, John L?" Pretty cool, huh?

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 20 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      He was popular and through his music became immortal Manatita. So unlike others who unfortunately get long forgotten.

      You are probably right Bill. That would have given him more time before the British Invasion.

      Perhaps you had heard some of his most popular songs Ruby because A Town Without Pity was also heard in the movie Look Whose Talking with John Travolta and Kirsty Alley.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 20 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I don't remember him. I'm surprised because I have always loved George Jones. I read the Wikipedia account, and it was good to learn that he died of a heart attack, not drugs...Interesting bio.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I was never a huge fan of his, but there was no denying his talent. I actually think he would have been more popular if he had been born ten years earlier.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 20 months ago from london

      I suppose I could say what a way to go! But it's still tragic. Didn't see that one coming as his story read so well, including his success. I saw The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Fun! Lee Marvin, I believe.