Gene Pitney, singer, songwriter

Gene Pitney, singer, songwriter

LONDON – Gene Pitney, whose keening, tenor voice produced a string of hits, including ’24 Hours from Tulsa’, was found dead in his hotel room on Wednesday following a concert which fans acclaimed as one of his best.

Pitney, 65, apparently died in his room in Cardiff, Wales, of natural causes, police said. “Last night was one of the best performances, not vocally, but from the enthusiasm.He just wanted to please – and he did,” said Wendy Horton, who reviewed Tuesday night’s concert in Cardiff for the South Wales Echo newspaper.”It came through in his voice because he really let it rip.If you are ill, that would be one of the first things to show it,” said Nigel Corten, who reviewed the show for the South Wales Argus.During a long career, Pitney had hits as a singer – ‘Town Without Pity’, ‘(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance’, ‘Half Heaven, Half Heartache’ – and as a writer, penning ‘Hello Mary Lou’ for Ricky Nelson and ‘Rubber Ball’ for Bobby Vee.In 1962 Pitney had the top two songs on the US chart – his rendition of ‘Only Love Can Break a Heart’ was at No 2, just behind a song he wrote, ‘He’s a Rebel’ for The Crystals.He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.Pitney waited until 1990 for his first British No 1 – he re-recorded ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart’ with Marc Almond.Pitney also had some success as a country singer, pairing with George Jones to record ‘I’ve Got Five Dollars and It’s Saturday Night’ and ‘Louisiana Man’.He also took second place twice at the San Remo Song Festival in Italy, and had a regional hit with ‘Nessuno Mi Puo’ Giudicare’.”I’m a performer,” Pitney said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1997.”I’ve tried everything there is.I don’t know how you can label something like that.”Born on February 17 1941 in Hartford, Connecticut, Pitney initially had no real ambition to be a singer.According to his official Web site, as a boy he was more at home collecting stamps and coins, trapping mink and muskrat and experimenting with electronics.But music gradually began to take over his life and he formed a band while a student at Rockville High School.His initial successes came when other musicians recorded his songs and he concentrated on writing rather than performing.Stones’ stars Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote ‘That Girl Belongs to Yesterday’, which was a hit for Pitney on both sides of the Atlantic.Pitney had 16 top 40 songs in the United States from 1961 to 1968, and 40 hit songs in Britain up to 1974.Pitney married his high school sweetheart, Lynne, in 1967, and kept a base in Connecticut all his life.He built a recording studio in his home at Somers, 30 km northeast of Hartford.Pitney said he wrote many of his best songs, including ‘Hello, Mary Lou’, in his candy-apple red 1935 Ford coupe, parked near a Rockville reservoir.- Nampa-AP-Reuters”Last night was one of the best performances, not vocally, but from the enthusiasm.He just wanted to please – and he did,” said Wendy Horton, who reviewed Tuesday night’s concert in Cardiff for the South Wales Echo newspaper.”It came through in his voice because he really let it rip.If you are ill, that would be one of the first things to show it,” said Nigel Corten, who reviewed the show for the South Wales Argus.During a long career, Pitney had hits as a singer – ‘Town Without Pity’, ‘(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance’, ‘Half Heaven, Half Heartache’ – and as a writer, penning ‘Hello Mary Lou’ for Ricky Nelson and ‘Rubber Ball’ for Bobby Vee.In 1962 Pitney had the top two songs on the US chart – his rendition of ‘Only Love Can Break a Heart’ was at No 2, just behind a song he wrote, ‘He’s a Rebel’ for The Crystals.He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.Pitney waited until 1990 for his first British No 1 – he re-recorded ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart’ with Marc Almond.Pitney also had some success as a country singer, pairing with George Jones to record ‘I’ve Got Five Dollars and It’s Saturday Night’ and ‘Louisiana Man’.He also took second place twice at the San Remo Song Festival in Italy, and had a regional hit with ‘Nessuno Mi Puo’ Giudicare’.”I’m a performer,” Pitney said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1997.”I’ve tried everything there is.I don’t know how you can label something like that.”Born on February 17 1941 in Hartford, Connecticut, Pitney initially had no real ambition to be a singer.According to his official Web site, as a boy he was more at home collecting stamps and coins, trapping mink and muskrat and experimenting with electronics.But music gradually began to take over his life and he formed a band while a student at Rockville High School.His initial successes came when other musicians recorded his songs and he concentrated on writing rather than performing.Stones’ stars Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote ‘That Girl Belongs to Yesterday’, which was a hit for Pitney on both sides of the Atlantic.Pitney had 16 top 40 songs in the United States from 1961 to 1968, and 40 hit songs in Britain up to 1974.Pitney married his high school sweetheart, Lynne, in 1967, and kept a base in Connecticut all his life.He built a recording studio in his home at Somers, 30 km northeast of Hartford.Pitney said he wrote many of his best songs, including ‘Hello, Mary Lou’, in his candy-apple red 1935 Ford coupe, parked near a Rockville reservoir.- Nampa-AP-Reuters

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