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Gene Pitney


Singer and songwriter, born in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. His first hit as a writer came with ‘Rubber Ball’ (1961), recorded by Bobby Vee. He also wrote ‘Hello Mary Lou’, a hit for Ricky Nelson in 1961, and one of his most revived songs. Among his hits as a singer were ‘I Wanna Love My Life Away’ (1961), ‘24 Hours From Tulsa’ (1963), and ‘Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart’ (1967). He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Pitney was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in Rockville, now part of Vernon, Connecticut. His early influences were Clyde McPhatter, country-blues singer Moon Mullican and doo-wop groups like the Crows. He attended Rockville High School, at which he was named "the Rockville Rocket", and where he formed his first band, Gene & the Genials. Pitney was an avid doo wop singer and sang with a group called The Embers. He made records as part of a duo called Jamie and Jane with Ginny Arnell (who in late 1963 had a solo hit, "Dumb Head"), and in 1959 recorded a single as Billy Bryan. The first of the two Decca 45s as Jamie and Jane was "Snuggle Up, Baby," a cover of a song Charlie Gracie recorded at Cameo 1957 or early 1958, which remained unreleased until London Records released Gracie's original version in Europe in 1978.


Gene Francis Alan Pitney (February 17, 1941 – April 5, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter. He was also an accomplished guitarist, pianist, drummer and skilled sound engineer. In 2002, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Through the mid-1960s, he enjoyed considerable success as a recording artist on both sides of the Atlantic. As a performer, he charted 16 Top 40 hit singles in the U.S., four of which reached the Top Ten. In the UK, the figures were even more impressive: 22 top 40 hits, and 11 Top Tens. As a songwriter, he also penned the big early 1960s hits "He's a Rebel" by The Crystals, and "Hello Mary Lou" by Rick Nelson.

Pitney was among a small group of early 1960s American artists and acts such as Roy Orbison, Bobby Vinton, The Four Seasons, Jan and Dean, Jay and the Americans, The Beach Boys, and The Supremes that continued to enjoy big radio hits after the British Invasion arrived in the United States in 1964.

Pitney died on April 5, 2006, aged 65. He was found dead by his tour manager in the Hilton Hotel, in Cardiff, Wales, in the middle of a UK tour. His final show at Cardiff's St.David's Hall was deemed a huge success, with a standing ovation, ending the show with his 1961 hit, "Town Without Pity." An autopsy confirmed the singer died of heart disease, brought on by hardening of the arteries. He was survived by his wife, Lynn, and three sons.

 

50s, 60s Hits

Backstage
Half Heaven Half Heartache
I'm Gonna Be Strong
It Hurts To Be In Love
Last Chance To Turn Around
Looking Through The Eyes Of Love
Only Love Can Break A Heart
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Town Without Pity
True Love Never Runs Smooth
Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa

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