Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Gene Pitney

Gene Pitney has died.

Gene Pitney, who was born in Hartford, Connecticut on 17th February 1941, was one of popular music’s most talented singer-songwriters. Although he was no longer a top star in his native America, he was still very popular in Britain.

He died in a hotel room in Cardiff, just hours after a hugely successful appearance on his current concert tour.

Gene’s first successes were as a talented writer of songs for other performers, in the early sixties. Only a few of us noticed the names of songwriters in those days, but his reputation grew within show business.

Those early songs included the cheerful “Today’s Teardrops” for Roy Orbison, the gentle “Hello Mary Lou” for Ricky Nelson and the feisty “He’s a Rebel” for the Phil Spector group the Crystals. He also co-wrote “Rubber Ball”, a big hit for Bobby Vee, and for Marty Wilde here.

But it was as a singer that Gene became really popular. He had an unusual style, which Paul Gambaccini described as “rock aria”, pointing out that only he and Roy Orbison were able to carry this off. His delivery was always highly dramatic.

His first hit was “I’m Gonna Love My Life Away”, on which he overdubbed all the instruments and voices. This was a technique later used to great effect by Roy Wood, Dave Edmunds and Mike Oldfield.

Some of his later hits included “Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa” (the one with which he is most associated, written by the prolific Burt Bacharach and Hal David); “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (also by Bacharach and David); “That Girl Belongs to Yesterday” (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard); “Nobody Needs Your Love More Than I Do” (written by Randy Newman): “Looking Through the Eyes of Love”, “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart” and “I’m Gonna Be Strong”.

Gene Pitney will be remembered with a great deal of affection. He died on 5th April, aged 65.