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Gene Pitney

1941 - 2006

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Gene Pitney dies - 5th April 2006
Gene Pitney

Sixties singer and song-writer Gene Pitney is found dead in Cardiff during concert tour of UK. He was 65 and died of natural causes.
[BBC News link]

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Gene Pitney
Gene Pitney
Gene Pitney - Discography - Album CD
Gene Pitney - BIO

It takes outstanding talent to reach the pinnacle of success in international show business and stay firmly entrenched at the top for over 35 years. Such is the amazing talent of Gene Pitney. A musician of rare versatility and a singer of great range and perception, Gene is a supreme professional at his chosen craft as well as a prolific songwriter with a string of million selling international hits to his credit. Gene Pitney's unique voice and presentation have ensured that songs like "Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa", "Town Without Pity", "I'm Gonna Be Strong" and "Lookin' Through The Eyes of Love" still sound fresh, vibrant and relevant in the new millennium. In a career spanning over 30 years, he has worked with an amazing range of artists and has maintained an appeal encompassing every spectrum of the record buying public. In 1990, he found success in an entirely new contemporary market with his worldwide No. 1 duet with Marc Almond, "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart". Surprisingly, the single gave Gene his first No. 1 in the UK (his 1967 original version only hit No. 5 on the British charts). The success also resulted in a massive demand from the contemporary market for Gene's 60s hits, while older fans wanted new recordings; a pleasant dilemma being solved with Gene returning to the studio he built in his Connecticut home. Born on February 17, 1941, and raised in Rockville, Ct, Gene began playing in his own local band called "Gene Pitney & The Genials" and began composing songs in his teens. He also began his study of electronic engineering at Wards Electronics School but when his songwriting began interfering with his studies, he soon realized music was taking over his life. In 1959, he made several recordings, both as part of a duet with a young girl named Ginny Arnell and under the name "Billy Bryan". When the record company wanted to him "Homer Muzzy", Gene opted to use his real name, a name that would soon become known worldwide. Opting to concentrate on writing songs instead of singing them, Gene's songs were soon recorded by some of the biggest stars of the time, including Steve Lawrence, Tommy Edwards, Billy Bland and Roy Orbison. "Rubber Ball" became a worldwide hit for US artist Bobby Vee and UK artist Marty Wilde. Each went on to become million sellers. In heavy demand as a songwriter, Gene soon realized he could sing his own songs just as well or better than the artists who were recording them. He made a demo of a song he wrote, "I Wanna Love My Life Away" for about $30.00. Although created on a shoestring budget, the record had a very big sound. Gene experimented with multi-tracked vocals and overdubbing, putting his electronics experience to good use to create a mini masterpiece in record production, revolutionizing recording techniques in the process. He sang seven vocals on the recording and played piano, guitar and drums to keep session costs down. A remarkable feat for 1961. The $30 demo was released as a single and reached No. 39 in the US and No. 26 in Britain. Says Gene, "I had just turned 20 and suddenly I was doing every television show, radio show, and record hop they could book me into. When the hits started coming, I was recording and touring almost simultaneously." At the same time, Gene's composition of "Hello Mary Lou" was released by Rick Nelson and became a Top 5 hit. Heady success for any young man! It sold two million copies in America and Europe. After having been performed over two millions times in the US market, "Hello Mary Lou" received a second BMI Millionaire Award in 1997. Gene scored his second hit with "Every Breath I Take", produced by Phil Spector. His first American Top 20 hit and million-selling single was the title song from a movie of the same name: "Town Without Pity". The song won the Golden Globe for "Best Song in a Motion Picture" and was nominated for an Oscar. Gene was the first pop artist invited to perform at the Academy Awards in Hollywood, firmly establishing his name throughout America. "The film was initially a box office disaster," Gene says, "but after the success of the record, the film was rereleased and became a huge hit. That's the kind of power records had in those days." Another movie theme, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", gave him an immediate followup hit, reaching No. 4 in the US and is one of his most requested songs in concert performances to this day. Gene's career skyrocketed as one song after another topped the charts: "Only Love Can Break A Heart" (his third million seller), "If I Didn't Have A Dime" (the B-side of "Only Love .." which made the US Top 100 on it's own merits), "Half Heaven, Half Heartache", "Mecca", "True Love Never Runs Smooth" and "It Hurts To Be In Love". Gene and Phil Spector consolidated their mutual admiration for each other's work in the summer of 1962 when Spector's group, "The Crystals," recorded Gene's composition, "He's A Rebel". Within weeks, the song stormed its way to No. 1, sold a million, and actually prevented Gene's single "Only Love Can Break A Heart" from passing No. 2! "He's A Rebel" received a BMI Millionaire Award in 1998 for surpassing one million airplays in the US. In 1963, Pitney had great success throughout the world with his recording of "Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa". This song was the beachhead from which Gene's fame spread rapidly. He maintained a simple but shrewd philosophy: If a record breaks in any particular territory, then go there, show yourself, meet people, and make as big an initial impact as you possibly can. This has paid off time and time again! Today, Gene is one of the most traveled artists in international show business, regularly doing concerts, cabaret, and television appearances around the world. He has also enhanced his popularity in many countries even further by rerecording many of his English speaking hits in various native tongues. On one such promotional tour in November 1963, Gene appeared on the Thank Your Lucky Star Program in England and met the Rolling Stones. The Stones struck up an immediate rapport with Gene, admiring his polish and professionalism. They were also totally fascinated by his tremendous knowledge of recording techniques. Gene liked the group's freshness and gutsy attitude. Pitney's endorsement of the group in America helped them break through to US success shortly afterwards. When Mick Jagger and Keith Richard penned Gene's next UK and USA hit record, "That Girl Belongs To Yesterday", this song became the first Jaggers and Richard composition to hit the American Charts. Gene returned the compliment by playing piano on the Stones' "Little By Little", the flip side of "Not Fade Away". For the next few years, Gene embarked on an extensive series of sold out domestic and international tours. Hit singles followed with amazing regularity, reaching the charts not only in America and Europe, but all over the world. His albums also made large dents in international Hit Parades, including "Just For You," "Blue Gene," "Gene Pitney's Big 16," and "I'm Gonna Be Strong." In a unique marketing move, several albums were recorded specifically for individual markets including "Gene Espanol" and "Gene Italiano". Gene also opened a brand new market by recording a number of country and western albums, with such artists as George Jones and Melba Montgomery, and had the privilege of performing at the legendary Grand Ole Opry in Nashville with some of country's greats, such as Eddie Arnold, Buck Owens, Roy Clark, and Connie Smith. Gene says, "I like things to keep changing. I've seen too many artists left out in the cold because they relied on the same old sounds and same old type of songs." At one time, as if to prove his point, he scored simultaneous hits in Europe, Britain, and on the American Pop and Country charts with 4 completely different songs. Other career highlights include multiple appearances at the celebrated San Remo Song Festival in Italy. Twice Gene received second place awards, the highest position awarded to a non-Italian artist in the history of the festival - with songs that were not only giant European hits but also entered the American charts in the native language. Gene also appeared at the Royal Variety Show in London and was presented to the Queen Mother. Several shows followed for such royals as Princess Alexandra, Princess Margaret, and the Duchess of Kent. After nearly a decade of breakneck touring, Gene decided to drastically cut back on his touring commitments in 1970 to spend more time with his family, and decided to reduce his commitments to 6 rather than 11 months. Without meaning to, he found himself increasingly in countries other than America due to his love of exotic travel. "There is nothing more exciting to me than to get on that airplane and know I'm going to get off in a totally different country, in a different part of the world." His annual tours of Britain, Europe, and Australia became a way of life. With every tour proving a sellout, the plan was an outstanding success. In 1983, Gene embarked on his first North American Tour in over a dozen years. It became a huge personal triumph. He was back "with a vengeance" even though he'd never been away. He still keeps up a relentless touring commitment which is a tribute to his professionalism. His voice is now stronger than ever before. Gene puts total commitment and energy into his emotion-charged live performances and always comes off stage completely drained. He stays fit by working out in his home gym, with an exercise schedule that was devised to keep him ready for the road. Gene's playdates throughout the 90s included the prestigious Carnegie Hall in 1993. He sold out the London Palladium the same year. Gene has toured Australia extensively several times, as well as England and has played everywhere in the US from The Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ, the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. shows in Vegas, Foxwoods Resort, St. Louis, Kansas City, Boston, just to touch the tip of the iceberg. The year 2000 was yet another milestone for Gene with the PBS Video Recording of the live concert at the Foxwoods Resort. National exposure to the concert was in December 2001 on the PBS Network. All the mixing and audio work on the concert were done at Gene's Recording studio by son Todd, using the fantastic Pro Tools system. Gene was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2002, amidst a dizzying concert schedule that took him all over the world. Wherever he appears, Gene's loyal fanbase is sure to increase, as his extraordinary voice and consummate style captivate audiences everywhere.

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