(Transcribed from interview courtesy of Eileen Simms, England.)
Transcriber's note: Due to quality of interview and my stupidity, parts of this remain unintelligible. Words that are either unclear or I'm just not sure of are written below in purple text.
Q:this evening, and, uh, into the
country for another major tour?
Welcome along to Radio WABC A: Yes Jim, thats right
Q: Whereve you been this year?
A: Where have I been?
A: Uhh, primarily I worked during the summer only on weekends. Ive been in the studio Ive been living in my recording studio. I did, uh, Carnegie Hall which was a kick in in February, and then a lot of dates, uh, all over the United States - all over different places. Um, some at Rhode Island - August was Rhode Island - New Hampshire, uh, Massachusetts, uhh, Akron, Ohio. Jus--just jumpin around, but primarily working on the new CD.
Q: Now you, um Its been a few now hasnt it since you first went top ten over here in the UK
Q: 24 Hours From Tulsa
A: You mean since then?
Q: <chuckle> Uh, no, no, no. Lets go way, way back to then.
A: Oh, I was gonna say thats been a few years yes!
Q: <chuckle> Has been quite a few years since your first, uh, top ten. How do you keep it so fresh on stage when youre doing that one?
A: Well, theres something about performing. I was just talking to this about someone the other day Theres something about being able to get out there and and immediately get into the middle of the song. Its not Its not just singing it, and its not really performing it - I dont know how to explain it to ya - but theres something that i-it takes on a whole new life when you get out there and do it that way. And, of course, the song has to be good to do it - if it was a duff song you couldnt do it.
Q: Is it that wonderful intro is like the bugle to a an uh, a charging war horse perhaps and once you hear that youre off and into action? That glorious long opening intro?
A: Well, thats, uh, shades of Burt Bacharach.
Q: <small chuckle>
A: Have you seen what theyve done to it this week?
Q: I was just going to raise that question.
A: (strained, Jimmy-Saville-esque) Ohhh.
Q: Shall we take our hats off in shame?
A: Well, I dont know. I mean its done very, very well. I havent seen the actual commercial
Q: <laugh> Well, Gene, you wont say that when you see it.
A: But I mean, Twenty-Four Toasters From Scunthorpe is really something else.
Q: Mind you, its there and its there and people are getting on saying You wanna hear the real one, you know, and bring it back
<<TWENTY-FOUR HOURS FROM TULSA>>
Q: Gene Pitney our guest here this evening here on Radio WABC. Youve just been in the studio, you have a new single out Can you tell us a bit about that one?
A: No, no! There isnt a single!
Q: No single?
A: No we havent got that far.
Q: We want to see singles.
A: No, I was praying that it would be done in time. I actually mixed the four that I brought witheme - I mixed them up until the day before I left from home
A: And it I thought that they would get done a little quicker than that but, uh, they just werent to my liking the mixes we had before that, so they didnt get finished enough to be the new single. Im hoping that it will be the single probably even by the time this tours over.
Q: Tease us just a l-- a little bit about the songs then if you will.
A: Well, the four that Ive got here are very diversified. Ive got one thats, um Mm, difficult to to give you a-- a relationship between that and another song that I had cos there isnt any - its a very unique song. My son--
Q: Who wrote it?
A: My son wrote the melody of it.
A: And <pause> he being a taught musician writes melodically different than I would - Im a seat-of-the-pants type writes I sit down and I play whatever comes out of my head. He sits down and has like a-- a reason why he goes from one chord change or something to the next, you know? And this one melody I heard him playing one night and I thought Wow, I gotta try to put a lyric to that, which Ive never, ever done before in my life - Ive always written, like, the melody with the lyric. And I did, and the thing As we worked on it and nurtured it line by line by line I mean, you know, I have people drop off tapes at the house and they say You know, I wrote this last night in twenty minutes, and I have to stop and think Wow.
A: I mean on this one song that Im mentioning to you and I probably spent a month on one line just one line of the song.
Q: This is gonna be another one si--similar to The Beach Boys Good Vibrations, which was a--a year in gestation Is yours gonna be like that one then?
A: Well, thi--this song was just about that - it was summer to summer this one song Uh, not the one Im talking about, but one of the four.
A: But theyre all very, very different. One of them is a ballad that I almost left out because somebody said to me in the very beginning that Oh, that sounds like an old song. And its, uh Its not an old, its like a universal type of a song Its the type of a song if you did have a hit with youd have a monstrous hit and youd have it all over the world.
<<SOMEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY>>
Q: Youre With the musica-- music behind it, are you using your, uh, th--the Gene Pitney Orchestra sound behind it or a--are you changing it slightly? Uhh, wh-where, you know, you have saxes and trumpets and, uh--
A: Oh, no, no, no.
Q: --Violins and the whole lot?
A: This is all midi stuff. This is all out of the, uh, the keyboard thats available in the studio itself. This is all I mean, if we wanted violins we put Violins, if we wanted, uhm uh, one of the available, like, thirty different, uhm, guitar sounds we use th-- Well, n-- actually when we went to Guitar we found out that one of the things you cant get from a midi sound thats any good is guitar - you gotta have a real guitar, so w have a--accoustic real guitars on it for which we get some guitar players. But the rest of it is purely out of drum machines, off the keyboards, w-- You know, you can use that stuff and it make it absolutely beautiful and it works very, very well Its just like anything else: its how you use it. I mean, Ive heard so much of it its so abused, uh, the synthesised sounds that are available to you.
Q: Yeah, they--they--they--they--they, uh, sort of take the sympathy of one drum and thats it - Oh, were stuck with that sound, put it on repeat and well have that for the rest of the time
Q: And, uh, I--it comes round and when d--do you anticipate-- Whats the label its coming out on, Gene?
A: No idea!
Q: No idea?
A: Im shopping right now.
Q: Youre sho-- And, uh, waving it around ar-- Whos interested? Are you gonna say?
A: I dont know - I just got off the airplane!
Q: <short laugh>
A: I dont know. I got off, uh, six-thirty day before yesterday - six-thirty in the morning.
Q: So, you--you--youre actually gonna release it into the UK rather than releasing it into the States?
A: No, Ive, uh, got people set up in LA, New York and here--
A: I just wanna see who, uh, is that interested - that looks like they really wanna get out there and do some work.
<<BACKSTAGE (IM LONELY)>>
Q: Getting back into the very early days, when you were on Stateside.
Q: Thats going back quite some time. Stateside actually took you away out of your environment. I mean, you were requi-- recording all your rock songs, your ballads and everything like that, and said Hey, come down to Nashville.
Q: And you went down to Nashville and you had a whole new ballgame down there for Stateside with George Jones.
A: Well, I I loved it, and I like anything that was like a challenge and at the time <brief cough to clear throat> I didnt realise that sometimes you can hurt yourself doing that, because a lot of the people in the American market thought that I had crossed over and went to be a Country act. We had so much success out of that situation.
Q: I-I was gonna say, you did What was it? Three with Jonesey, didnt you?
A: Uh, LPs yeah. And we had, uh, two or three big hit singles that they gave us, ummm I think they called us - funny enough - Country n Western Group Of The Year, the two of us.
Q: Wa-way back I-- This is-- Were 65 were talking about so--
A: Its somewhere around there, yeah.
Q: So y-youre actually crashing across the whole established Nashville scene and youd gone down there more more out of curiosity, perhaps.
A: I went down just to see if I could do it, and if if I could be successful in doing Country music. Loved it because of that.
<<IVE GOT A NEW HEARTACHE - duet with George Jones>>
Q: Do you own all those recordings? Ar-are they yours or used to b--
A: No, unfortunately theyre not.
Q: Theyre not. Because I-- I was going to say at the present moment - the present environment we see MT taking such a high profile at the present moment - perhaps youd be as well to uh, would they have re-released those?
A: What, the uh--
Q: C-- Th-the Nashville recordings? The Stateside Nashvilles, because nobodys ever released those on CD, I think.
A: No, and I dont think the people that have control of em right now even know anything about that theyre even there.
Q: No, well tha-that is the sad thing, isnt it?
A: I know. Yeah, but its one of those things that happens and you dont realise - you dont know.
Q: You were talking of, uh, musical themes and, uh, the the Latin i-in the days of whe-when you were going to Mowa martyr Mater School and learning all that wonderful stuff there. Musical themes - theyve changed a lot over the years youve been in the business?
A: Oh, Ive watched radical changes I mean, th-the The only thing is that like everything else - like clothes, like fashion - its very cyclical. Uh, you have a lot o things that come and go and become-- they take their own little niche - almost like Jazz, where, ummm When you had Disco When you had, uhh mm Well, Reggaes come back in a big, big powerful way right now again. Umm When the Twist or when certain things became the de rigeur, you know, important of I-- of its time. They hang around but they they kinda like fade in the background and they have certain amount of people tha-that love that kind of a thing But Ive watched, uh, so many different thing I mean, right now my music publisher from, uh, Lo-Los Angeles just called me before I left home and he said he wanted, uh, demos any demos I had of the original stuff that I had written back in the Sixties that wasnt really turned into a big hit. And the reason for it is that the Country n Western field right now - the new Country n Western field - is virtually at the same spot where Rock was in the early Sixties. Country music in the States was th-the crew that are called The Hats - th-the new the new kind.
Q: Yes, yes, y-- Thats the phrase, yet I ca-- I cant imagine you with a hat, but-- <chuckle>
A: No, but the construction of the songs--
A: --and the way that theyre Uh, I just watched the awards show from like a week ago and it was amazing! It was just like early Rock. And the songs I wrote back in the early Sixties are very applicable to that market today, and thats why this guy wanted them.
<<SOMEDAY YOU'LL WANT ME TO WANT YOU - duet with George Jones>>
Q: Cos The Statlers did an excellent version of your Hello Mary Lou, didnt they?
A: Thats right! Exactly.
Q: And th-th-they picked that music up and it went round to tremendous great style, but your style your style is What-- Well, its going Timeless Pitney, now, really, isnt it?
A: Well, its amazing. I mean, this is thirty years since Tulsa and its been an incredible time, and Im Im Im as excited about doing what Im doing now with the stuff in the studio and working on it and writing again - which I have written for, like, almost twenty years, you know.
Q: Course there is one other thing that comes in now, and uh I mean, uh, how about the video? <extended pause> Cos if youre gonna If youre gonna have a song, youve gotta have a video now, havent you?
A: Oh, you-- you almost have to have, and I, uh I love that idea cos I loved doing whe-when I got my feet wet doing the, uh that video with Marc with Somethings Gotten Hold Of My Heart--
Q: Yes, I remember that one, yes.
A: --I mean that was just one of the most exciting things I ever did in my life, being out in the middle of that junkyard out in Las Vegas at five OClock in the morning!
Q: Would would you, uh Uh, go in and have the professionals pick up your video or have you got your own ideas what youve got for your your new your new music?
A: Well, to be perfectly honest with you, lets go one step at a time I just finished <uneasy chuckle> the first four sides
A: I would like to, uh, get somebody whos really, really interested in promoting the music and go out and see what you know, what we can do with it first. Then well worry about getting into the video aspect of it.
<<I CAN'T STOP LOVIN' YOU>>
Q: What do you listen to when youre absolutely relaxing and you think Ill put some music on just in the background. What What does Gene Pitney listen to?
A: Im not a background music listener. Um, I listen to a lot of people but I dont listen to em in in that way. Uhh, I listen to a lot of CDs and things now to just hear what other people are doing, you know?
A: I uh got a stack of things home with, um lot of new, interesting people like Torre Amos, uh you know the group Belly?
A: Uhh thats interesting stuff uh I thought that the new Mick Jagger CD was interesting - the different directions that they went in, even with a strong Country n Western song--
Q: <small chuckle>
A: --that he wrote.
Q: You keep coming back to that\, Gene. Youre gonna get a steel guitar and backup--
A: Yeah, Gowns Of Different Colours I think its called. He-- I-I never thought that I would ever see the day to hear Mick Jagger go on #And I went #
Q: <quiet chuckle>
A: And he does on that CD.
A: I dont know what they were shootin for, but it gives you an idea of what everybody out there is doing. Umm Oh, who else have I got? <quietly mumbles> the new things on Bruce Hornsby
Q: We-- Bruce Hornsby? Hes a very Country-Rock man, isnt he, really? He-he-- If you listen--
A: Well, hes been a session man for so many people and he has a sound that, uh I think that the sound almost may end up be feeding him because you know immediately when you hear the lick that he does on piano you know its him.
Q: Yeah, thats Hornsby.
A: Yeah, and you cant do that all the time You gotta You gotta move that and change it somewhat I think thats gonna cause him trouble or already has. Umm Oh, God Got loads Oh, Duran Duran.
Q: Ah, yes.
A: I love that new thing that theyve just did I mean, that--
Q: Brilliant, isnt it?
A: And the fact that they did it in a home studio up in a apartment that thats where it was recorded
Q: Which is back, as you say, to the Sixties where all the big hits were recorded virtually, wasnt it? A lo-- Lots of the early stuff, um, Buddy Holly stuff was done in his front room more than anything, wa--
A: It was done, yeah, in the garage somewhere or something.
Q: Yeah, all all the all the different
A: Yeah, they had cement, accoustic walls.
Q: <pause> Just before you disappear Slightly digressing sligh-- Do you still have your hotel club interests?
<<HEARTBEAT by Buddy Holly>>
Q: Do you still have your hotel club interests? The last time I believe we spoke y-- you you--
A: Its not a hotel. Its, uh, a beach beach and boat club.
Q: Beach an-- Yes, because yo-youre into fishing, werent you? Into--
A: Yeah, I didnt have a chance this year--
A: Hardly at all. I love fly fishing - trout fishing
A: And the lake is still full of trout - as a matter of fact unfortunately where we live most of the fish are all theyre stock
A: You know, theyre put in by the Department of Fisheries. Uhh, there are some Lunkers that stay in there year after year after year an everybody catches a few of those every summer But they usually put in loads an loads of, uh, Rainbow Brookies and Brown Trout, uh, in the lake and the majority of them are getting fished out before the year is over.
Q: Yea-- Theyre the ones that give you that little delicate feel? W-when you--
A: Oh, its just such a great feeling when the when when its hot and when you got the right fly
A: And those things are coming up and grabbin it theres nothing like fly fishing.
Q: Will you try it then over in this country? Will you get time for it, do you think?
A: I tried it, um, a few years back I went up to The first place I ever tried it was Lady Barra Lake--
A: Up in the Lake District. And, uh, first time I was ever introduced to things Id never, ever seen before like multiple um multiple snail leaders--
A: --where you run more than one fly, which Id never, ever heard of before - like in tandem, you know?
Q: And, uh, theyre difficult to feed, arent they? Difficult to present
A: Very hard--
Q: Cos youve got one thats splashing about there like--
Q: --like a seagull landing or something.
A: --I ended up, uh, snagging many, many bushes up there <laugh>--
A: --on my back casts.
Q: And, uh Well, well wish you some fishing We look very much forward to this new music, Gene, and this great stuff. Will you be in-- singing any of the songs when youre on concert.
A: Cant do it only because of the lateness of getting them finished--
A: --I really wanted to put - like I said - the up-tempo thing I would have loved to have closed the show with But, it got done and it came out great so have to just hang in there a little bit longer.
Q: Gene, just before we disappear then, an all-time favourite Gene Pitney song for us to disappear with.
A: Um Youre asking me to pick one?
Q: Yes please.
A: Uhhh lets go with the one I love doing on stage Im Gonna Be Strong.
Q: Youre gonna be strong. Well, you have been strong for so long and you stand up to it and and you stand there and people send all these beautiful presents to you on stage they become such a great feature of it I think youre very strong with the audience in the UK, Gene.
A: Oh, I lo-- I love doing that Thats part of That changes the whole relationship with the audience once you do something like that.
Q: The-they are the Gene Pitney They are there and theyve been there since
A: They sure have been. Theyre the best.
Q: Ge-- Gene Pitney, may we wish you a very, very successful tour.
A: Thank you very much.
Q: Thank you, Gene!
<<IM GONNA BE STRONG>>