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 this morning (April 5) at a hotel in Wales after playing a show,
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 this morning (April 5) at a hotel in Wales after playing a show, his agent said. He was 65. 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."
He 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."
Born in Hartford, Conn., on Feb. 17, 1941, Pitney had his first success as a songwriter with "Rubber Ball," a No. 6 Billboard pop singles chart hit for Bobby Vee in 1961. Later that year, Ricky Nelson had a No. 9 hit with Pitney's "Hello Mary Lou."
As a performer, Pitney had his first success that same year with "Love My Life Away," which reached No. 39. But Burt Bacharach and Hal David provided the songs that put Pitney in the top 10, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "Only Love Can Break a Heart."
"Only Love Can Break a Heart" was Pitney's biggest U.S. hit, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1962. The No. 1 song at the time was the Crystals' "He's a Rebel," written by Pitney.
The artist scored additional top 10 hits later in the decade with "It Hurts To Be in Love" and "I'm Gonna Be Strong." 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."
In 1990, he scored his first U.K. No. 1 single with the Marc Almond duet "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart."