Rock 'n' Roll Singer Gene Pitney

Alex Chadwick offers a tribute to musician Gene Pitney, the singer behind such rock 'n' roll classics as "Town Without Pity" and "Only Love Can Break a Heart." Pitney died Wednesday at the age of 65.

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Finally, news today that singer and songwriter Gene Pitney has died. He wrote pop hits in the 1960s, including He's a Rebel, recorded by The Crystals, and Hello, Mary Lou, a big hit for Ricky Nelson. As a singer, Gene Pitney recorded Only Love Can Break a Heart and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. He also collaborated with composers Burt Bacharach and Hal David on a number of hits, including Town Without Pity, which became his signature song, and we'd like to let you hear all of it.

(Soundbite of song, "Town Without Pity")

Mr. GENE PITNEY (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) When you're young and so in love as we, and bewildered by the world we see. Why do people hurt us so? Only those in love would know what a town without pity can do. If we stop to gaze upon a star, people talk about how bad we are. Ours is not an easy age, we're like tigers in a cage--what a town without pity can do.

Though young have problems, many problems, we need an understanding heart. Why don't they help us? Try to help us, before this clay and granite planet falls apart? Take these eager lips and hold me fast. I'm afraid this kind of joy can't last. How can we keep love alive? How can anything survive when these little minds tear you in two? What a town without pity can do.

How can we keep love alive? How can anything survive when these little minds tear you in two? What a town without pity can do. No, it isn't very pretty what a town without pity can do.

CHADWICK: Town Without Pity, performed by Gene Pitney and released in 1961. The song featured in the motion picture of the same name was nominated for an Academy Award. Like many artists of his era, Gene Pitney's career fell victim to the British invasion led by the Beatles in 1964, but he continued to tour and perform. He was found dead this morning at a hotel in Cardiff, Whales. Gene Pitney was 65 years old.


DAY TO DAY is production of NPR with contributions from I'm Madeleine Brand.

CHADWICK: And I'm Alex Chadwick.

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