WITH ANN AND NICK
INTERVIEWERS: Nick Owen and Anne Diamond
SUMMARY: UK TV interview.
BROADCAST DATE: May 1995
RUNNING TIME: 7 minutes 40 seconds.
KEY: NO=Nick Owen
NO: And now he's set to undertake his first UK tour for several years
AD: Although his list of chart-toppers included 'Town Without Pity' and '24 Hours From Tulsa', his first UK number one was in 1989 - when he sang 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart' with Marc Almond. Here is Gene Pitney in action.
CLIP SEQUENCE: 'Town Without Pity'/'Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa'/'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart' (1989 duet)
NO: And he's here today, Gene Pitney. It's
great to see you.
GP: Hi. Nice to be here.
NO: An-and hearing that...that more recent one...What was it like for you when you first got asked to have a crack at re-recording that?
GP: Well, I was on tour. You mean 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart'?
GP: I was on tour at the time and - to be honest with ya I almost turned it down. I was tired and I was in Bristol - I had to come in to London overnight to do the recording...and I almost said 'nah'...and then I thought about it and I said 'You know, these are the kind of things that always work for me - it's so off the wall-'
GP: '-in trying something like this that I gotta go and do it'. So, I- Marc wasn't even in the country at the time...
NO: (quietly) Yeah.
GP: He was in the States doing promotion, I think, at the time.
AD: And incredibly that was your first UK number one.
GP: Yeah. I came-
AD: I can't believe-
GP: -close before, but-
AD: I can't believe '24 Hours From Tulsa' wasn't number one! I mean, it's one of our-
GP: I think it got to number four, or something like that.
NO: Well, it's one of the standards, isn't it? It's part of our culture.
AD: It's part of our-...Yes, exactly!
AD: It came to...it came to number four. You were always bubbling under in the Sixties, though - you were always sort of in the top three, weren't you?
GP: Yeah, we came close, but never hit number one.
GP: I had the same problem in the States where I had, uh, a song called 'Only Love Can Break A Heart' - that was number two...the number one song was a song called 'He's A Rebel' which I wrote for The Crystals, and by the time that fell out of number one I fell out of number two, so... (laugh)
NO: I tell you what did surprise me about...reading about your background...was that you wrote, uh...
NO & AD: 'Rubber Ball'
NO: I didn't know that.
NO: And 'Hello Mary Lou'.
NO: Yeah. I had no idea. So...so you started, really, as a songwriter.
GP: I really wanted to start out - I was just interested in singing...but the-
GP: -songwriting, I found, was my way into singing - it was kind of like a side door.
GP: Because I started writing songs and, uh, I started making the demos of the songs, and the demos got out in front of the noses of all the producers and people. And it was kind of a way-
AD: -you've got a very distinctive voice, haven't you?
GP: Well, I think that's one of the things that's...that's made me - as you put it...I mean, most people say three decades, but when you said *four* decades-
AD: Well, sorry, but time's getting old-
GP: -I thought 'This guy is old as dirt!' (laugh)
NO: Do you have a favourite of all those? I mean '24 Hours From Tulsa' is probably the one you're most associated with, uh, by our generation, so-
GP: I would say that song is one of the best written, uh, for the construction of it and the ability to really guts into it and sing 'Something Got A Hold Of My Heart'.
GP: I think that's one of the best things. After that was successful, I called Roger Cook - one of the writers...
GP: He was in Nashville. And I said to him that it was-...He didn't even know. I said 'It's number one right now.' And I said 'Have you got anymore like that?' And he said to me 'You only get one of those-
GP: -in a lifetime.' And I think he was right.
AD: Well, I don't know, you have quite a few of tho-...real-
GP: He meant as a writer.
AD: Yeah. But you had quite a few really good songs then. But you're *now* recording an album with your son!?
GP: Yes. Well, it's finished now. We-
GP: -finally did it.
AD: Oh, really?
GP: It took two and a half years.
AD: How old is he? This is Todd, is it?
GP: Todd is twenty-seven - he's my oldest boy. And it's really been a kick to do it because we've kinda, like, grown together on this thing.
AD: So has he gone into music production rather than singing himself, or what?
GP: He started out being a drummer for, like, six or seven years. Then he took...he went to keyboard - just felt like trying it out and became terrific on keyboard, piano...anything that you wanna play with your fingers. And a couple o' years ago, we...He got frustrated - we didn't have a guitar player...So he took up guitar and went right by my ability on guitar within, about, six months. And the biggest thing is he's a whiz on the computer, and the...the studio is computer-driven.
AD: That's what you need now.
GP: So, he runs the whole thing and does a great job.
NO: What sort of response do you get when you come on the UK tours these days?
GP: (pause) 'What sort of response'?
NO: Yeah. I mean the fans. You hav-...I mean, I get the impression you get very faithful-
GP: Oh, it's terrific. I mean, they've been wonderful to me for an awful long time, and I...uh...What I have to do is I have to go out there and try to do a show that's as good or better than the one I did last time. I mean, it's-
GP: ...There's no...
AD: 'Cos in a way your popularity lasted longer in the UK than it did in the States, didn't it?
GP: Well, I think that happened when I started moving out of the States. After '24 Hours From Tulsa' I found out that I love to get on airplanes, and I love to go to different countries - I still do. My house is underneath the flight pattern at the home airport.
AD: So you like to be twenty-four hours from somewhere still?
GP: Yeah. Exactly.
GP: But I...I spread myself very, very thin and went to a lot of different countries...I started recording in languages and Country 'N' Western and everything, and I think that I kind of left the States behind a little bit.
AD: Yeah, but then you also decided, didn't you, that you weren't seeing enough of your family and yo--...made a deliberate move to go back home?
GP: When the two oldest boys were...were very young - they're a year apart - and, uh-
AD: Yeah. That's Todd and Chris? Yes?
AD: Yeah. And you had anot-
GP: Through a tax audit, th-...they actually proved that I wasn't home eleven months out of the year at that time-
GP: -and I had, like, a guilt complex-
AD: Yeah, I'll bet.
GP: -so I said 'We're gonna cut it back to six months travelling'.
NO: Yeah. You've been married to your missus a long, long time showbiz terms, that's very unusual.
GP: 'parently there's not many of us-
GP: -that still have a marriage like that. It's been very, very good.
AD: Is it something like twenty-nine years or something?
GP: Twenty-eight, I think.
AD: Twenty-eight...yes, yeah. And you had a third child as well?
GP: David is sixteen...
GP: ...plays Lacrosse an' Soccer and having a ball. He doesn't-
AD: But are they all musical like you?
GP: They are, but...um...You know, it's one of those things where if Dad is, like, the guy that does the singing and everything I think that they were...You know, they go into school and they say 'Let's see if you sound like' - you know - 'Daddy' and everything, and I think it frightened them.
NO & AD: Mm.
GP: I hear that they all have excellent voices. Todd is only singing recently - he's only started to sing. He sounds pretty good.
AD: You'll be able to retire soon, then, won't you? (chuckle)
GP: Yeah, we'll...we'll put him in...put him out there!
NO: We've had a few calls for you, actually, from...uh...people watching the programme, including Pat from, uh, Rose Hill in Surrey. She says 'I'm the lady who came to the Croydon convention at the Fairfield in 1993-'
NO: '-I gave you a black cat that miaowed. I'd like to wish you love and best wishes for the future'. Do you remember a black cat that miaowed? Given to you by Pat-
AD: Well, don't all black cat's-
GP: (awkward chuckle)
NO: He's looking blank. You do really, don't you?
GP: I do. Yes, yeah.
AD: Well, hang on a minute 'cos Denise-
GP: Thanks, Pat!
AD: Denise from Poplar in London's rung in. She says 'My sister, Janet Rabin <spelling unknown> of Epping is Gene's biggest fan. And it's her birthday today. She would be *ecstatic* if Gene could wish her a Happy Birthday on today's programme. We've got tickets for lots of his shows around the country'. So, you've got to say 'Happy Birthday, Janet'.
GP: No. It's 'Happy Birthday, Phantom'.
NO: (huff of laughter)
GP: Happy birthday. Love you. She's terrific.
NO & AD: Ooh.
NO: That's a little bit cryptic, wasn't it?
AD: That sounded very serious.
NO: Ah, that's worse than those 3D images.
NO: I'm baffled by that.
AD: Yeah, you're baffled by those. You can't see them either, can you?
GP: Terrible. I tried everything. The only thing I can do is...uh...some of them - probably the easier ones - if I go cross-eyed. If I really relax my eyes and end up like that, it's...
AD: But it's-
NO: A man starts like that
GP: <says something but it's not clear because it's at the same time NO is still talking>
NO: And, uh...You're gonna have to say hello to Patricia from Falkirk in Scotland because she says 'why isn't Gene coming to Glasgow on his tour? I've been to all his Glasgow concerts. I'm very disappointed.'
NO: She's shattered.
GP: The reason being that what they wanted this time was a forty-six day tour. And I said to the promotors 'If you wanna send me home in a box...'There's no way that I can give away what I do every night on the show'.
NO & AD: Mm.
GP: And, so, what they're doing is the other half of the tour comes in October.
AD: So you're doing another tour then?
GP: So... Yeah, the other half of this one.
AD: Oh crumbs.
GP: So, we're gonna be-
NO: So you'll be in Glasgow then?
GP: We'll be in Glasgow.
NO: Oh good. Anyway-
AD: There's a promise. That's a promise.
NO: Say 'Hello' to Patricia, will you?
GP: Hello, Patricia.
NO: Anything cryptic there?
GP: No lights on these cameras. You can't tell whether...
NO: No, that's why we always look at the wrong one.
GP: Ah, okay!
AD: (laugh) That's our excuse.
NO: Yes, very disappointing. Anyway, look, thank you for coming to see us-
GP: My pleasure.
NO: -today. Good luck with the tour.
AD: Yeah, great to see you.
NO: It's really good to meet you, yeah.