Gene Francis Alan Pitney (February 17, 1940 – April 5, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter and musician.
Pitney charted 16 top-40 hits in the United States, four in the top ten. In the United Kingdom, he had 22 top-40 hit singles, including 11 in the top ten. Among his most famous hits are “Town Without Pity”, “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance”, “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa”, “I’m Gonna Be Strong”, “It Hurts To Be In Love”, and “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart”. He also wrote the early-1960s hits “Rubber Ball” recorded by Bobby Vee, “Hello Mary Lou” by Ricky Nelson, and “He’s a Rebel” by the Crystals. In 2002 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Pitney was born in Hartford, Connecticut, United States, the son of Anna A. (Orlowski) and Harold F. Pitney. The third of five children of a lathe operator, Pitney lived with his family in Rockville, Connecticut, during his formative years. He grew up in Rockville, now part of Vernon, Connecticut.
Pitney’s early influences were Clyde McPhatter, country-blues singer Moon Mullican, and doo-wop groups such as The Crows. He attended Rockville High School where he formed his first band, Gene & the Genials. Gene’s first recordings were in 1958 with a CT singing group called the Embers. Those recordings were not released until 1990. In early 1959 he released two records on the Decca label, “Snuggle Up Baby” and “Classical Rock and Roll”, as part of a duo called Jamie and Jane with Ginny Arnell. Later that year, he had his first solo release “Cradle Of My Arms” under the name Billy Bryan on the Blaze record label. His first release under his real name was in 1960 on the Festival label titled “I’ll Find You”.