I hope you have learned a few things during our trip down Rock and Roll memory lane. I know I certainly have. Today being “P” day it would be too predictable to write about “The King” Elvis. I opted to go another way. Today’s subject for the A to Z Blog Challenge is another not so well known artist but he was one of my favorites as a young boy growing up.
May I present to you Mr. Gene Pitney! Gene Pitney was a singer/songwriter, a musician, and a sound engineer. He was born on February 17, 1940, in Hartford, Connecticut. He grew up in Connecticut having moved to different towns. Gene was drawn to Country Blues and Doo Wop music. He sang with a Doo Wop group while in high school.
In 1961, Gene signed a contract with Musicor Records. His first notable hit was the title song, “A Town Without Pity,” a movie of the same name starring Kirk Douglas. The song received a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Song.” Unfortunately the song lost to “Moon River” by Andy Williams. Gene did get to perform the song at the 1962 Academy Awards Show.
Gene had a hit with another song, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, that was also a title to a movie. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. The song never made it to the movie soundtrack due to a dispute between Famous Music and Paramount Pictures.
Gene wrote several songs that were hits for other artists, “He’s a Rebel” by the Chrystals; “Today’s Teardrops” by Roy Orbison; “Rubber Ball” by Bobby Vee; and “Hello Marylou” by Rick Nelson.
Gene Pitney also had worldwide appeal. He recorded songs in Italian, Spanish and German. He also cemented his appeal with British audiences with his recording of another Bacharach-David song, “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa.” Gene also came in second place a couple of times at the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy. Gene’s voice was favorably compared by some of the older Italians who heard Gene’s performances to the voice of the famous Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso.
In 1964 Gene had to more hits, “It Hurts to Be in Love” and “I’m Gonna Be Strong.” After these two hits most of Gene’s success was in the European and Australian markets.
Gene continued to tour, primarily oversea’s, from the 1970’s through 2006. He performed his last show on September 5, 2006, in Cardiff, Wales, UK. He was found dead from a heart attack in his hotel room the next morning.
Gene Pitney may not be as well know as other American artists but Gene Pitney had a voice that was powerful enough to compete with the best of them. Like I said, I am still a fan!