SUMMARY: UK radio interview, with Gene on the phone
RUNNING TIME: 34 minutes 19 seconds.
KEY: Q=Interviewer
..........A=Gene Pitney

(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, that’s right
Q: Where’ve you been this year?
A: Where have I been?
Q: Yeah.
A: Uhh, primarily I worked during the summer only on weekends. I’ve been in the studio…I’ve 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…It’s been a few now hasn’t it since you first went top ten over here in the UK
A: <cough>
Q: 24 Hours From Tulsa
A: You mean since then?
Q: <chuckle> Uh, no, no, no. Let’s go way, way back to then.
A: Oh, I was gonna say that’s 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 you’re doing that one?
A: Well, there’s something about performing. I was just talking to this about someone the other day… There’s something about being able to get out there and…and immediately get into the middle of the song. It’s not…It’s not just singing it, and it’s not really performing it - I don’t know how to explain it to ya - but there’s 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 couldn’t 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 you’re off and into action? That glorious long opening intro?
A: Well, that’s, uh, shades of Burt Bacharach.
Q: <small chuckle>
A: Have you seen what they’ve 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 don’t know. I mean it’s done very, very well. I haven’t seen the actual commercial…
Q: <laugh> Well, Gene, you won’t say that when you see it.
A: But I mean, Twenty-Four Toasters From Scunthorpe is really something else.
Q: Mind you, it’s there and it’s there and people are getting on saying ‘You wanna hear the real one’, you know, and bring it back…
Q: Gene Pitney our guest here this evening here on Radio WABC. You’ve just been in the studio, you have a new single out… Can you tell us a bit about that one?
A: No, no! There isn’t a single!
Q: No single?
A: No we haven’t 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…
Q: Yeah.
A: …And it…I thought that they would get done a little quicker than that but, uh, they just weren’t to my liking the mixes we had before that, so they didn’t get finished enough to be the new single. I’m hoping that it will be the single probably even by the time this tour’s over.
Q: Tease us just a l-- a little bit about the songs then if you will.
A: Well, the four that I’ve got here are very diversified. I’ve got one that’s, um…Mm, difficult to…to give you a-- a relationship between that and another song that I had cos there isn’t any - it’s a very unique song. My son--
Q: Who wrote it?
A: My son wrote the melody of it.
Q: Yeah.
A: And <pause> he being a taught musician writes melodically different than I would - I’m 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 I’ve never, ever done before in my life - I’ve 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’.
Q: <chuckle>
A: I mean on this one song that I’m 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 I’m talking about, but one of the four.
Q: Yeah.
A: But they’re 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 it’s, uh…It’s not an old, it’s like a universal type of a song…It’s the type of a song if you did have a hit with you’d have a monstrous hit and you’d have it all over the world.
Q: You’re… 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 that’s 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 can’t get from a midi sound that’s 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…It’s just like anything else: it’s how you use it. I mean, I’ve heard so much of it it’s 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 that’s it - ‘Oh, we’re stuck with that sound, put it on repeat and we’ll have that for the rest of the time’
A: Exactly.
Q: And, uh, I--it comes ‘round and when d--do you anticipate--…What’s the label it’s coming out on, Gene?
A: No idea!
Q: No idea?
A: I’m shopping right now.
Q: You’re sho--… And, uh, waving it around ar--… Who’s interested? Are you gonna say?
A: I don’t know - I just got off the airplane!
Q: <short laugh>
A: I don’t know. I got off, uh, six-thirty day before yesterday - six-thirty in the morning.
Q: So, you--you--you’re actually gonna release it into the UK rather than releasing it into the States?
A: No, I’ve, uh, got people set up in LA, New York and here--
Q: Hm-mm.
A: I just wanna see who, uh, is that interested - that looks like they really wanna get out there and do some work.
Q: Getting back into the very early days, when you were on Stateside.
A: Right.
Q: That’s 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’.
A: Right.
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 didn’t 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, didn’t 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--…We’re ‘65 we’re talking about so--
A: It’s somewhere around there, yeah.
Q: So y-you’re actually crashing across the whole established Nashville scene and…you’d 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.
<<‘I’VE 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 they’re not.
Q: They’re 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 you’d 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 nobody’s ever released those on CD, I think.
A: No, and I don’t think the people that have control of ’em right now even know anything about…that they’re even there.
Q: No, well tha-that is the sad thing, isn’t it?
A: I know. Yeah, but it’s one of those things that happens and you don’t realise - you don’t 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 - they’ve changed a lot over the years you’ve been in the business?
A: Oh, I’ve watched radical changes…I mean, th-the… The only thing is that like everything else - like clothes, like fashion - it’s 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, Reggae’s 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 I’ve 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 wasn’t 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--…That’s the phrase, yet I ca--…I can’t imagine you with a hat, but-- <chuckle>
A: No, but the construction of the songs--
Q: Is--
A: --and the way that they’re…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 that’s why this guy wanted them.
<<‘SOMEDAY YOU'LL WANT ME TO WANT YOU’ - duet with George Jones>>
Q: ‘Cos The Statler’s did an excellent version of your ‘Hello Mary Lou’, didn’t they?
A: That’s 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, it’s going Timeless Pitney, now, really, isn’t it?
A: Well, it’s amazing. I mean, this is thirty years since ‘Tulsa’ and it’s been an incredible time, and I’m…I’m…I’m as excited about doing what I’m 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 you’re gonna…If you’re gonna have a song, you’ve gotta have a video now, haven’t 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 ‘Something’s 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 O’Clock 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 you’ve got for your…your new…your new music?
A: Well, to be perfectly honest with you, let’s go one step at a time…I just finished <uneasy chuckle> the first four sides…
Q: Yeah.
A: …I would like to, uh, get somebody who’s really, really interested in promoting the music and go out and see what…you know, what we can do with it first. Then we’ll worry about getting into the video aspect of it.
Q: What do you listen to when you’re absolutely relaxing and you think I’ll put some music on just in the background. What…What does Gene Pitney listen to?
A: I’m not a ‘background music’ listener. Um, I listen to a lot of people but I don’t 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?
Q: Mm.
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?
Q: Yeah.
A: Uhh…that’s 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. You’re gonna get a steel guitar and backup--
A: Yeah, ‘Gowns Of Different Colours’ I think it’s 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.
Q: Ca--
A: I don’t 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? He’s a very Country-Rock man, isn’t he, really? He-he--…If you listen--
A: Well, he’s 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 it’s him.
Q: Yeah, that’s Hornsby.
A: Yeah, and you can’t do that all the time…You gotta…You gotta move that and change it somewhat…I think that’s 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 they’ve just did…I mean, that--
Q: Brilliant, isn’t it?
A: And the fact that they did it in a home studio up in a apartment…that that’s where it was recorded…
Q: Which is back, as you say, to the Sixties where all the big hits were recorded virtually, wasn’t 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: It’s not a hotel. It’s, uh, a beach…beach and boat club.
Q: Beach an--…Yes, because yo-you’re into fishing, weren’t you?…Into--
A: Yeah, I didn’t have a chance this year--
Q: Mm?
A: Hardly at all. I love fly fishing - trout fishing…
Q: Yeah.
A: And the lake is still full of trout - as a matter of fact unfortunately where we live most of the fish are all…they’re stock…
Q: Yes.
A: You know, they’re 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--…They’re the ones that give you that little delicate feel? W-when you--
A: Oh, it’s just such a great feeling when the…when…when it’s hot and when you got the right fly…
Q: Yeah.
A: And those things are coming up and grabbin’ it there’s 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--
Q: Yes.
A: Up in the Lake District. And, uh, first time I was ever introduced to things I’d never, ever seen before like multiple…um…multiple snail leaders--
Q: Yeah.
A: --where you run more than one fly, which I’d never, ever heard of before - like in tandem, you know?
Q: And, uh, they’re difficult to feed, aren’t they? Difficult to present…
A: Very hard--
Q: ‘Cos you’ve got one that’s splashing about there like--
A: I--
Q: --like a seagull landing or something.
A: --I ended up, uh, snagging many, many bushes up there <laugh>--
Q: <chuckle>
A: --on my back casts.
Q: And, uh…Well, we’ll 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 you’re on concert.
A: Can’t do it only because of the lateness of getting them finished--
Q: Ahh.
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… You’re asking me to pick one?
Q: Yes please.
A: Uhhh…let’s go with the one I love doing on stage ’I’m Gonna Be Strong’.
Q: You’re 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 you’re very strong with the audience in the UK, Gene.
A: Oh, I lo--…I love doing that…That’s 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 they’ve been there since…
A: They sure have been. They’re the best.
Q: Ge--…Gene Pitney, may we wish you a very, very successful tour.
A: Thank you very much.
Q: Thank you, Gene!