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60s Pop Singer Gene Pitney 1941-2006


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'60s Pop Singer Gene Pitney 1941-2006

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Singer Gene Pitney . . . today and yesterday

LONDON, England - '60s Pop Star Gene Pitney, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame whose hits included "Town Without Pity" and "Only Love Can Break a Heart," died Wednesday, April 5 at a hotel in Wales after playing a show, Jene Levy, his agent said. He was 65. Pitney, who shot to fame with hits including "24 Hours from Tulsa," died while on tour in Britain.

Levy said Pitney was found dead Wednesday morning in his hotel room in the Welsh capital of Cardiff where he had given a concert the previous night that won him a standing ovation. Police said the death did not appear suspicious. "We don't have a cause of death at the moment but looks like it was a very peaceful passing," said Pitney's tour manager, James Kelly.

"He was found fully clothed, on his back, as if he had gone for a lie down. It looks as if there was no pain whatsoever," Kelly added: "Last night was generally one of the happiest and most exuberant performances we've seen out of him. He was absolutely on top of his game and was really happy with the show."

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Singer Gene Pitney

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, on February 17, 1941, Pitney had his first success as a songwriter with "Rubber Ball," a Top 10 hit for Bobby Vee in 1961. Later that year, Ricky Nelson had a hit with Pitney's "Hello Mary Lou." As a performer, Pitney had his first success that same year with "Love My Life Away."

But Burt Bacharach and Hal David provided the songs that put Pitney in the Top 10: "Only Love Can Break a Heart" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." Pitney's biggest U.S. hit, "Only Love Can Break a Heart," peaked at No. 2 on the charts in 1962. Ironicall, the No. 1 song at the time was The Crystals' "He's a Rebel," written by Pitney.

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Singer Gene Pitney

He had more than a dozen Top 40 hits and even contributed to an early Rolling Stones recording session. Pitney waited until 1990 for his first British No. 1 he rerecorded "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" with Marc Almond. Pitney also had some success as a country singer, pairing with George Jones to record "I've Got Five Dollars and It's Saturday Night" and "Louisiana Man."

He recorded in Italian and Spanish, and twice took second place at the San Remo Song Festival in Italy. He also had a regional hit with "Nessuno Mi Puo' Giudicare." Pitney was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Pitney is survived by his wife, Lynne and three sons who live in his native Connecticut.

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