Main content

Gene Pitney

Sue Lawley's castaway is singer-songwriter Gene Pitney.

"Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the singer-songwriter Gene Pitney. Gene grew up in Rockville, Connecticut, the middle child of a large family. His father worked in the local mills and the family sold fruit and vegetables from their garden to supplement this income. A shy child, Gene says that performing couldn't have been further from his mind, although he enjoyed singing. His first solo performance at school resulted in an embarrassing whimper as Gene was petrified by the expectant audience.

In his teens he began to learn the guitar and piano, and formed a local band whilst at high school, finding that performing was a good way to overcome his shyness. Spotted by what Gene calls "the proverbial fat man with a cigar", he was taken to New York and recording contracts soon followed. Soon his songs were being recorded by some of the biggest stars of the time - Hello Mary Lou was released by Rick Nelson, Roy Orbison recorded Today's Teardrops as the B-side to his million-selling single, Blue Angel, and Rubber Ball became a worldwide hit for US artist Bobby Vee and UK artist Marty Wilde. By the mid sixties Gene had found international success with the Bacharach song Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa. In 1990 he had his first number one in this country with Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart, a duet with Marc Almond.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: The Last Song by Elton John
Book: The Giant Book of Mensa Puzzles by Robert Allen
Luxury: Case of Opus One wine

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 7 Mar 2003 09:00

Music Played

  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Elton John

      The Last Song

      • Elton John: The One.
      • Rocket.
  • Chuck Willis

    C C Rider

    • Atlantic Rhythm & Blues/Vol.3 1955-1958.
    • Atlantic.
  • Chuck Berry

    Roll Over Beethoven

    • Chuck Berry's Golden Hits.
    • Mercury.
  • Gillian Welch

    Tear My Stillhouse Down

    • Revival.
    • Almo Sounds.
  • Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

    Somewhere Over The Rainbow

    • Finding Forrester/Soundtrack.
    • Columbia.
  • Norah Jones

    Nightingale

    • Come Away with Me.
    • Blue Note.
  • Gipsy Kings

    Queda Te Aqui

    • Love and Liberty.
    • Columbia.
  • Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

    Con Te Partiro - Time to Say Goodbye

    • Time to Say goodbye.
    • Coalition.
  • Book Choice

    • The Giant Book of Mensa Puzzles - Robert Allen

  • Luxury Choice

    • Case of Opus One wine

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest Gene Pitney

Broadcasts

Featured in...

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes

Articles

Articles

Read the surprising things we've learned about some stand-out castaways.

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?

Podcast