The Oldies Music Board

You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

May 4, 2020 8:05 pm  #1

Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

I found this article pretty interesting. It's about the great Gene Pitney and the fact his career never really died - until he sadly did.

Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

Like this author, I have a special memory of Pitney that goes beyond his music.
A very long time ago, around 1983, I was producing a talk show at a radio station when the host – a huge 60s Top 40 fan – decided he wanted to interview Gene Pitney. It took a while, but we finally found out where he lived and got a phone number to his home in Connecticut. And boy, was he a great guest, with a ton of stories about his years in the music business.
At the time, he was running a boat rental business and had basically stopped touring. But the response from listeners seemed to really impress him – our phone lines were jammed during the two hours he was on, something that didn’t happen every night. It was a love fest and he must have realized he still had a lot of fans.
A few months later, this being radio, the inevitable happened. These were the early days of the all-talk format and the ratings were less than stellar. So management fired almost everyone and went back to a music format. The host and I were among the casualties.
Fast forward later that year. There were big ads in the paper that Gene Pitney was coming to play one of the city’s biggest concert rooms and the thing had sold out. It wasn’t until months later that I heard from some old friends that Pitney had called the radio station and asked for me and the host, only to be told they "had left the station" and “didn’t know how to reach us.”
I didn’t find out until months later that he’d left two front row seats for us at the theater, as a thank you for proving to him that he should consider coming here on tour. But since we never found out about it, those prime seats remained empty and the show went on without us.
It was the last time Pitney ever came here and to this day, I regret that we didn’t know we were invited as special guests to see him. But what a great gesture from a great man.

And I still love his music.


May 4, 2020 8:44 pm  #2

Re: Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

Great story about one of my favorite artists from the days gone by.  "Only Love..." had just hit the charts when I started my time at KTEO in San Angelo, TX.  My first 3 weeks there, I was 'training' doing all-niters on the weekends and that record seems to bring back my best memories of actually being a real, live radio DJ on a real Top 40 station.  I give thanks every day that I had that privilege!  I have often wondered why Gene seemed to be forgotten whenever oldies music and artists are talked about.  He had 16 hits that made the national Top 40 but looking back, I don't think he ever had that one hit single that just jumped out of the radio and said "here I am!!"  R.I.P. Gene.


May 4, 2020 8:59 pm  #3

Re: Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

I had the good fortune to "meet and greet" with Gene after 3 different concerts during the late 90's and early 2000's. A real gentleman and down to earth as they come..  


May 4, 2020 10:30 pm  #4

Re: Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who found this entertainer just what he appeared to be - a talented but humble man.

I do remember one story he told on air that day and it's something I never would have known about if he hadn't revealed it. And it was about my favorite Gene Pitney song, "It Hurts To Be In Love."

Apparently, he was never meant to sing it. It was actually a tune that had already been recorded by Neil Sedaka. But just before it was supposed to be released, Sedaka had some sort of dispute with the record company and left for another label.

His old employer wasn't about to put out a new song by the veteran artist after he departed, so they gave it to Pitney instead. The backing track you hear on that 1964 hit was the one used on the Sedaka recording and to add insult to injury, Neil actually appears on the record doing some backing vocals.

It made it to #7 on Billboard and Sedaka would not have another big hit until he resurfaced during his comeback in the mid-70s. But if you listen to the song with fresh ears, knowing that story, you definitely see how it could easily have been the kind of song he would do.

I've never really been able to hear it the same way since.

     Thread Starter

May 5, 2020 3:48 am  #5

Re: Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

back before there was creem, let alone rolling stone, guys like me read 16, tiger beat, etc., too. there was no other practical source of information. i must have gotten his 'fan club' or somesuch address from one of those 'zines, and wrote to ask if he'd be playing anywhere near me soon.

to my surprise, i got a very nice letter from his mother in return. gene was indeed playing jn my state within a month or so, she said. however, the interstate hadn't come through my outhouse (billy edd wheeler reference) yet, and the gig was roughly a five hour drive. out of the question for my parents, and i was too young to be put on a bus by myself for that distance as well, or so they also said. at least i tried to make it to a pitney show, i'm sure he would have knocked me out.

oh well, such is life. i never got to see link wray either..


Last edited by gopher (May 5, 2020 4:19 am)


May 5, 2020 8:17 am  #6

Re: Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

What a great story Aflem!


May 5, 2020 9:16 am  #7

Re: Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

Yeah, very cool story. I must admit I boarded the Pitney express late in the game. My favourite CHUM d.j., Jack Armstrong, simply loved Gene's '68 song "She's A Heartbreaker". He hyped it no end and it soon became one of my favorites as well. My only other Pitney record is a 45 of "Something's Gotten A Hold Of My Heart", a duet that he cut with Marc Almond in '89. I saw it in a German department store and picked it up unheard, partly because it had a neat picture sleeve, and I ended up quite liking the record. 


May 5, 2020 5:35 pm  #8

Re: Gene Pitney Walked and Sang Among Geniuses

I was a fan of Gene Pitney from the start. Followed him thru all of his hits in the sixties. Then he seemed to disappear. Always wondered what happened to him. Years went by and I would get little blurbs that Gene was still performing. Then with the advent of the internet, I started searching, and I found out that he was alive and well. When you live in a small town in western NC, news travels slow. Just wish I could have seen him at a live concert.


Board footera


Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum