Personalities | Gene Pitney | Sixties | Rock

(Vocals, 1941–2006)

This University of Connecticut graduate was first recognized in the music business as a composer of hits for Ricky Nelson and Bobby Vee. As a performer, Pitney made a US Hot 100 debut with 1961’s ‘(I Wanna) Love My Life Away’ before climbing higher with two successive film title songs – ‘Town Without Pity’ and ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence’. Further hits by short-haired, besuited Pitney included ‘Only Love Can Break A Heart’, ‘Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa’, ‘I’m Gonna Be Strong’ – his biggest UK smash apart from a chart-topping duet of ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’ with Marc Almond in 1989 – ‘Princess In Rags’, ‘Backstage’, ‘Nobody Needs Your Love’ and the 1967 solo blueprint of ‘Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart’. Without exception, they were ballads sung in his trademark piercing nasal tenor. By the 1970s, Top 40 entries were coming less easily to him, but his regular concert tours remained sellouts. Pitney died suddenly on a UK tour in 2006.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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