Hello: Gene Pitney was born on February 17, 1940 in Hartford, Connecticut and raised in Rockville, Connecticut. He recorded for Decca Records in 1959 with Ginny Arnell as Jamie & Jane. He recorded for Blaze Records in 1960 as Billy Bryan. He first recorded under his own name in 1960 for Festival Records.
In January of 1961 Gene hit the Top 100 for the first time with (I Wanna) LOVE MY LIFE AWAY on the Musicor Records label and reached #39. All of his hit recordings would be on Musicor. In October of 61 Gene would record one of his most popular records. TOWN WITHOUT PITY from the movie of the same name, starring Kirk Douglas it would become the #13 record in the country.
In April of 1962, (The Man Who Shot) LIBERTY VALANCE became Gene’s first Top 10 as it rose to #4. Liberty Valance was recorded for, but not used in the movie starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. His follow-up would do even better, ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK A HEART would move its way up the charts to #2.
Gene would record many more hits between 1962-64. His next Top 10 would come in July of 1964 when IT HURTS TO BE IN LOVE would chart in at #7 and in October of 64, I’M GONNA BE STRONG would make the Top 10 at #9. As the saying goes the hits kept on coming. Gene would hit the Top 100, 10 more times between 1965 and 69. Some of those hits are: LAST CHANCE TO TURN AROUND-#13 in 1965, LOOKING THROUGH THE EYES OF LOVE-#28 in 1965, BACKSTAGE-#25 in 1966 and SHE’S A HEARTBREAKER-#16 in 1968.
Gene was a world-wide star recording his hits in foreign languages. He was voted Italy’s top singer in a 1964 poll. He also was a great song writer. He wrote some of his own hits along with big hits for other artists like The Crystals, HE’S A REBEL, Rick Nelson, HELLO MARY LOU and Bobby Vee, RUBBER BALL to name a few. He also had 5 hits on the County charts, four with George Jones and one with Melba Montgomery.
I was fortunate enough to see Gene preform twice once in 1961 in Rochester, NY and again in 1964 in Virginia Beach, VA. He was one of the best performers I have ever seen. Putting everything he had into each song. Gene Pitney died on April 5, 2006 at the age of 66. He left us a world of great music and left me with some great memories.