"Hello Mary Lou" was always one of my favorites. I'm sure it would have been a hit for Gene Pitney as well ... but Ricky Nelson took it over the top and made it his very own, going all the way to #1 here in Chicago as the A-Side ... nationally, it was "Travelin' Man," the flip side, that topped the charts. Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Statler Brothers also made notable recordings of these songs. Pitney also wrote the hits "He's A Rebel" for The Crystals and "Rubber Ball" for Bobby Vee.
Gene Pitney still earned a #4 pop hit with "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" despite it not being used in the film. ("Town Without Pity," his prior hit, WAS used in the film of the same name ... and was even nominated for an Academy Award.)
A Gene Pitney biography (by David McGrath) was released recently. McGrath worked for Pitney for twenty years and was essentially his right-hand man ... but still writes the book more from a fan's perspective. The title of each chapter is also the title of one of Gene's best known songs ... and insight into the history of the recording is given for each entry ... along with "factoids" about this material. While annoying at times, it IS an interesting look into Gene Pitney's career. 17 Top 40 Hits tells the story of just how popular he really was back in the '60's. A unique voice, to be sure, with some GREAT hits along the way. (kk)
GENE PITNEY: 1963 - 1967
While Gene Pitney's career may have been waning a bit here in The States during this era when the artists of The British Invasion were dominating the charts, he didn't miss a beat with his British fans, where his records regularly made The Top Ten.
Here is a chart comparison of Gene's hits, 1963 - 1967 ...
1963 - Half Heaven, Half Heartache (US - #12 / UK - xx)
1963 - Mecca (US - #12 / UK - xx)
1963 - True Love Never Runs Smooth (US - #21 / UK - xx)
1963 - Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa (US - #17 / UK - #5)
THE BEATLES HIT AMERICA
1964 - That Girl Belongs To Yesterday (US - #49 / UK - #7)
1964 - Yesterday's Hero (US - #64 / UK - xx)
1964 - It Hurts To Be In Love (US - #6 / UK - #36)
1964 - I'm Gonna Be Strong (US - #9 / UK - #2)
1965 - I Must Be Seeing Things (US - #26 / UK - #6)
1965 - I've Got Five Dollars And It's Saturday Night (recorded with George Jones and released as George and Gene) US - #97 / UK - xx
1965 - Last Chance To Turn Around (US - #12 / UK - xx)
1965 - Looking Through The Eyes Of Love (US - #23 / UK - #3)
1965 - Princess In Rags (US - #32 / UK - #9)
1966 - Backstage (US - #24 / UK - #4)
1966 - Nobody Needs Your Love (US - xx / UK - #2)
1967 - Just One Smile (US - #64 / UK - #8)
1967 - Cold Light Of Day (US - #83 / UK - #38)
1967 - Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart (US - #130 / UK - #5)
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UPDATE: I talked with Phil yesterday and he was still in the hospital at the time ... but very optimistic about being on the mend and coming home soon.
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