GENE PITNEY

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.

Till the next time—Joe

PS: What are some of your favorite Gene Pitney Hits?

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#1 Gene Chandler “DUKE OF EARL”

Hello:   1962 is the year, February 17 is the date.  The #1 song in America is the classic hit by Gene Chandler on Vee-Jay records, DUKE OF EARL.  The Duke would have a 3 week stay at #1 on the Top 100 and would also become a #5 hit on the R & B charts.  Gene would sell over a million copies of his huge hit and was awarded a “Gold Record”.  He was born Eugene Dixon on July 6, 1940 in Chicago, Illinois.

During his long recording career he would chart 34 records on the pop charts and 36 hits on the R & B charts.  The Duke Of Earl has become a staple of oldies radio and Doo-Wop lovers all over the world.  It is one of the most recognizable oldies of all time and a giant of a hit from “The Golden Era of Rock and Roll.

Till the next time—Joe

Bob Dylan

Hello:  Born Robert Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota.  He took his stage name from the poet Dylan Thomas.  Bob came to New York City in 1960 and worked in Greenwich Village folk clubs.  He signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1961.

His first hit record came in April of 1965, SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES moved up the Top 100 to #39 and was followed by the classic LIKE A ROLLING STONE in July of 65.  Like A Rolling Stone made it to #2 on the Top 100.  Before 1965 would end Bob Dylan would again record another classic, POSITIVELY 4TH STREET, a record that would also chart high on the Top 100 at #7.

Bob’s next big hit record made the charts in April of 1966 and moved its way to #2, RAINY DAY WOMEN #12 & 35 was one of those songs that just sounded great on AM radio.  My car radio would get a workout when it was played, what a great song. 

In July of 1966 Bob was in a motorcycle crash and took a short retirement to recover from his injuries.  In July of 1969 the classic LAY LADY LAY hit the charts, a beautiful ballad it rose to #7 on the Top 100.  In 1973 KNOCKIN’ ON HEAVEN’S DOOR from the movie Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid starring Bob Dylan would climb to #12 where it would have a 16 week stay on the Top 100, the longest of any of his single records.

If I tried to list all his hit songs this would not be a blog but a book.  I will say that he has written hit songs for many other recording artists, such as: Peter Paul & Mary, Rick Nelson, Johnny Cash, Manfred Mann, The Byrds and Jimi Hendrix just to name a few.  

To date he has charted 29 single records and numerous LP’s.  He was a member of the super-group the Traveling Wilburys and his son Jakob is lead singer of The Wallflowers. Bob was elected to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988 and received a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in 1991.   Bob Dylan is an American legend his music will always be a part of us.  He is the innovator of the folk-rock style and he is truly, THE VOICE OF HIS GENERATION.

Till the nex time—Joe

PS: This is for my son Mark, a true Bob Dylan fan

#1 HEY JUDE—THE BEATLES

Hello:  The biggest record of 1968 is The Beatles classic, HEY JUDE on Apple Records.  It went to #1 on September 28, 1968 and stayed at the top spot for 9 weeks on its way to sales of over 4 million copies.  Hey Jude had a 19 week stay on the Top 100, the longest of any Beatles single.  It was also #1 in the UK for 2 weeks and was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  The Beatles would have 20 #1 hits in the US  between 1964 and 1970.

The flip side of Hey Jude was REVOLUTION, also a big hit reaching #12 and staying on the Top 100 for 11 weeks.

Till the next time—Joe

#1 Big Bad John—Jimmy Dean

Hello:  On November 6, 1961 country singer Jimmy Dean had the #1 song in America, BIG BAD JOHN on Columbia Records. It would be #1 for 5 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, #1 for 10 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart and #1 for 2 weeks on the Country chart on its way to sales of over a million copies.  Jimmy also won a 1962 Grammy Award for Best Country And Western Recording for his biggest hit of all time—-BIG BAD JOHN.

Till the next time—Joe

Bobby Vee

Hello:  Todays artist is Robert Thomas Velline or as he is known to his many fans Bobby Vee.  Bobby was born on April 30, 1943 in Fargo, North Dakota.  He formed a group, The Shadows (not the Cliff Richard’s group) with his brother and a friend in 1959.  After Buddy Holly’s death in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, Bobby and his group were asked to fill in on the next show, which was in Fargo.

In 1959 on the Soma Records label, Bobby and his group cut the record SUZIE BABY.  It was picked up by the much larger Liberty Records label and charted in August.  It was a modest hit only reaching #77 on the Top 100.  His first big hit would come in August of 1960.  DEVIL OR ANGEL would climb its way up the charts to #6 and be followed in November by RUBBER BALL that would also be a #6 hit record on the Top 100.

Bobby would continue charting records in 1961 and then in August he would release his biggest record ever on the charts.  TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY BABY would become a #1 record and have a 3 week stay at the top of the charts.  He would follow-up in November with another big hit, RUN TO HIM, that would become #2 on the Top 100.  His next Top 10 record came in December of 1962 when, THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES became the #3 record in America.

Bobby continued on the charts through 1966 having 2 Top 40 hits, they are: CHARMS-#13 in 1963 and BE TRUE TO YOURSELF- #34 also in 1963.  He would also place 13 records in the Top 100 during that time.  In 1967 Bobby returned to the Top 10 with COME BACK WHEN YOU GROW UP, reaching #3 and selling over a million copies.  Bobby Vee would continue to chart hit records into 1970.  He has 7 Gold Records and 45 charted single records.  He has starred in 4 movies.

On February 15, 2010 Bobby was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall Of Fame.  He continues to tour the country and entertain his many fans.  Check out his web site for all the tour dates and a complete history along with alot of great pictures at  www.bobbyvee.com.

Till the next time—Joe

The Righteous Brothers

Hello:  They were called “Blue -eyed soul”, the vocal duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield.  Bill was born on September 19, 1940 in Santa Ana, California and Bobby on August 10, 1940 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.  The duo formed in 1962 and recorded as the Paramours for Smash Records in 1962.

In 1963 they charted their first hit. Now known as The Righteous Brothers, LITTLE LATIN LUPE LU on the Moonglow Records label went to #49 in the Top 100.  Their next big record would come in December of 1964 when their recording of YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN’ would become their first #1 record and hold the top spot for 2 weeks.  In July of 1965 they would chart a record that would become one of the most requested songs of all time, UNCHAINED MELODY on the Philles Records label.  It would move up the charts to #4, but it doesn’t stop there.  That same song would be featured in the movie “Ghost” starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in 1990 and again become a huge hit making its way to #13 on the Top 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  They would also record a new version of Unchained Melody on the Curb Records label and that version would reach #19 and sell over a million copies.  So lets put the numbers together—Unchained Melody, 3 chart entries, 57 weeks on the charts and sales in the millions.

In December of 1965 they would reach the Top 10 again with EBB TIDE, climbing to #5.  In March of 1966 they would release, (You’re My) SOUL AND INSPIRATION and take it to #1 for 3 weeks.  It would sell over a million copies and become their second #1 record.  They would continue charting hits, but in 1968 they split up and Bill Medley went solo.  They reunited in 1974 and returned to the Top 10 with ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN on the Haven Records label.  Rock And Roll Heaven charted at #3 and was followed by GIVE IT TO THE PEOPLE, #20 and DREAM ON, #32, all in 1974.

That would be the last of the chart hits until Unchained Melody in 1990.  In their career The Righteous Brothers would put 32 records on the charts.  They would have 2 #1 records and an all-time classic, Unchained Melody.  In March of 2003 they were inducted into Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  In November of 2003, Bobby Hatfield died at the age of 63.

Till the next time—Joe