Tribute to Gene Pitney

LAST week saw the death of music legend Gene Pitney. He died of natural causes, in his sleep in his hotel room in Cardiff. I was particularly shocked by his death, as I had the honour of seeing him at his recent Peterborough Broadway show, and having int

LAST week saw the death of music legend Gene Pitney. He died of natural causes, in his sleep in his hotel room in Cardiff.

I was particularly shocked by his death, as I had the honour of seeing him at his recent Peterborough Broadway show, and having interviewed him just days before the performance.

I can't claim to have been a lifelong Gene Pitney fan, but Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart, especially his 1989 duet with Marc Almond, has been one of my favourite songs and recordings ever since it was released. I would have been 12 at the time, and I'm listening to it loudly as I write this.

After the news of his death, I took the time to read a selection of the many warm tributes left to him on news and music websites.


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One such comment that I took particular notice of was from a journalist who had spoken to him many years ago.

He had interviewed him for quite some time before noticing that he had not pressed record on his tape-recorder.

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Without a single care or complaint, Gene Pitney offered to start the interview again - even saying that he often found himself doing the same when recording songs.

Incidentally, Gene was considered an extremely accomplished producer before he found fame as a singer. He recorded the Rolling Stones before they became the sensation that we all know, and even recorded the first Jagger/Richards song to reach the charts.

Quite a cool guy - and above that, a genuinely nice person. My experience of interviewing him echoed the anecdote told by the journalist with the tape-recorder.

I called him while he was staying at a hotel in London, and after I briefly enquired about his tour, he told me that he could hardly hear me talking. I should explain that I do have quite a quiet voice, but I am usually able to hold telephone conversations.

He was apologetic at not being able to hear, and at first went to turn down the television in his room, then hearing little improvement we concluded something was up with my telephone, and he immediately called me back from his "cell phone". There wasn't the slightest air of frustration or annoyance.

From my limited experience of interviewing musicians, I know that there are so-called stars who couldn't even imagine a character as instantly sociable, selfless, and warm as I found Gene Pitney. It was a real pleasure to speak to him, and fantastic to see him perform.

CHRIS BOLAND

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