Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Gene Pitney R. I. P.

"Only love can break a heart, only love can mend it again."
(Hal David and Burt Bacharach, "Only Love Can Break a Heart," originally performed by Gene Pitney)

Today finds me in a rather poor mood. I don't really want to go into why, but I am not very happy. I can only hope things soon change for the better.

Anyway, singer/songwriter Gene Pitney died earlier today at the Hotel Cardiff in Wales at the age of 65 after one final performance. At the moment they do not know the cause of death, but it does not appear to have been anything suspicious. He was found fully clothed and lying down, as if he was going to take a nap.

Pitney was born in February 17, 1941 in Harford, Conneticut and grew up in Rockville. He broke into the music business as a songwriter. His first real success was "Rubber Ball," performed by Bobby Vee. He would go onto write "He's a Rebel" for The Crystals and "Hello, Mary Lou" for Ricky Nelson. Pitney eventually launched his own career as a music artist. His first major hit was "Love My Life Away." This was the first of a string of hits that Pitney had in the early Sixties. He performed two songs written for movies. "Town Without Pity" was the theme to the movie of the same name. It was nominated both for the Golden Globe for "Best Song in a Motion Picture" and the Academy Award for "Best Song." "The Man Who Shot Libery Valance," written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach for the movie of the same name, was one of his top ten hits. Pitney's biggest hit was "Only Love Can Break a Heart," which went to #2 on the Billboard charts in 1962 (the #1 song at the time was one of his own compositions--"He's a Rebel" by The Crystals). The British Invasion would put an end to Pitney's string of hits, although he continued to find success in Europe and Britian.

I always liked Gene Pitney. "Hello, Mary Lou" has always been my favourite Ricky Nelson song, while I have always loved "He's a Rebel." I cannot say that I liked every single song he performed as a singer, although I have always enjoyed both "Town Without Pity" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." I do have to say he had a very unique vocal style--melodramatic and pained. It is sad to think that he is gone.

1 comment:

The Stevo in H-Town said...

I wuzza 'bout 14-16 when that dude had his day. You get different opinions about his voice and a lotta folks put him in "the guilty pleasure" category...Either way, I bought every album he recorded and still think his singing style was pretty damned original..Tellya what...If you were goin' thru a break-up with a teenage girl at the time...Pitney could bringya to tears.......