INTERVIEWER: John Leslie
Next guest has been in showbusiness for more than forty years -
GP: FORTY YEARS?!
JL: Forty years...And in that time he's chalked up 22 hits in Britain alone, and Gene Pitney - thank you very much for joining us here.
GP: My pleasure.
JL: Forty years. Did you know it was that long?
GP: I think it's just under and I think I'll keep it that way, thanks.
JL: Right, because, uh, now this is your sixtieth year?
GP: Yeah, the big one.
JL: Special celebrations?
GP: No, not really. I-I coasted right through it. I mean I think other people were more, um, you know, thinking about it more than I do. I-
GP: -I've gone through the forty and the fifty barrier without really thinking too much about it and just carried on...
GP: ...Went out the other side.
JL: Well, I couldn't believe it 'cos you are looking fab.
GP: (short chuckle) Thank you.
JL: Um...And...By accident or d- by design you had a conscious decision, uh, in the Seventies to kind of change your lifestyle.
GP: Yeah. I found out - oddly enough - through a tax audit that-
GP: -I was spending like, uh, like ten months, uh, other - they wanted to know where I was domicile to, you...In order to tax me...
GP: Whether in Connecticut or New York. And, uhhh, I found out that I was travellin' like ten months out of the year and I had two kids that were, like, two and three or three and four at the time. So I thought I'll cut it back to like six months travelling out of the year.
GP: And, uh, did that.
JL: That was it. Right, so you changed your movements. D-D-Did y-you change your lifestyle and, uh, your eating habits, and...and your-your health style - your regime?
GP: No...No, not so much that. I mean, I really got into, uh...Eating wise and everything I've al-always been very, very good...I have...I'm lucky...I happen to like things that are the right things for you.
JL: Right. That is very lucky.
GP: You know? I mean, I eat, like, fish four times a week. My wife hates it! You know-
GP: -Whenever I say 'Salmon again - blackened salmon', it's like 'Whoa!' (laugh)
JL: But-But you're here to promote this album. <picking up CD>
JL: Which is called: 'Gene Pitney - The Ultimate Collection'.
JL: Um, so why? Why this - it's like...It's the greatest hits effectively, isn't it? I mean, there's fifty on here.
GP: No, it's not!
GP: That's the difference.
GP: Because normally when people see a greatest hits, uh, CD, it's songs that were hits.
GP: Greatest hits, and people know a majority of those. This thing here has a cross-section. You know, I'll have people coming to my house and say, you know, 'Well, I know what you did with that song' and 'You had a hit with that song', and I say ' Did you ever hear me do standards', or 'Did you ever hear me do Country 'n' Western?' or 'Did you ever hear me do language songs or anything like that?'
GP: Say 'Well, no'. This has a cross-section of all the different various types of songs that I've done, so I think it's kinda unique.
JL: And good value for money, as well - fifty songs. <picking CD back up>
GP: Yeah, well-
GP: -They kinda had to do that, I think, to dabble in all the different...different folk songs as well as...
JL: Yeah, dabble in all your fancies.
JL: I'm glad to see, though, it has got the number one that you had in the country with Marc Almond - that's on here...'Something's Got A Hold Of My Heart'.
GP: You think we're gonna leave that out? (chuckle)
JL: Eh, y- Well, exactly, better not. Y-
JL: Y-You've not done any collaborations since, though, have you?
GP: No, I haven't but I would love to.
JL: Who particularly?
GP: Uh, I've been doing in my show 'Angels' by Robbie Williams, who I think's a really, really talented guy.
GP: Um, my favourite CD of the year is David Grey, with, uh, 'White Ladder' and I was thinking of putting that in the show as well. But it's a funny story...I listened to the lyrics on it and I thought 'What is he saying?'
GP: So, I had...My son had the liner notes from the CD at home...I said 'Bring it in so I can see what he's saying'. So he brought the liner notes in. I read it and I-I still didn't know. I thought 'What is he saying?' He had no idea. Then I watched him doing an interview about two weeks later and he said that all the stuff he's worked on - all the CDs prior he spent so much time trying to make the lyric make sense and-
GP: -everything relate to one another.
JL: Hm mm.
GP: This time he didn't.
JL: Right, just went for it.
GP: He just took words and anything that sang well and felt well-
GP: He sang them.
JL: Yeah, but any popular song, y-y-you listen to people that written it and say 'Well, I don't really know what that meant but just went for it'. But I think-
GP: But I think this one goes all the way through that way!
JL: I think we'll get-
GP: I love it.
JL: <picking CD up> -a gist of, um 'Something's Got A Hold Of My Heart'. Let's have a look...This is you with Marc Almond.
=>30 second clip from end of 'SGHOMH' video<=
JL: Number one. Not going to, uh, follow it up?
GP: First number one!
JL: Not going to follow it up at all? I mean, Marc's kicking about. I'm sure he wouldn't mind.
GP: Oh, I would love to. I would love to do something else, uh, with Marc ri- This was all Marc's idea. I mean-
GP: -He's the guy that took the song and let's ki- let's do this again, you know, and re-do it my way.
GP: To make it fit into the Nineties, and I think it's about time to do something like that to fit into the mi-millennium, you know?
GP: Do somethng around again.
JL: With, uh, the fifty tracks there, could you pick out a favourite, hm?
GP: Can I see it?
JL: Can you see? <passing CD up> Yeah, cool, a little reminder 'cos there are...There's a few belters on there.
GP: (whistle) <looks down track listing on CD case> Uhhh...
JL: Take your time (laugh)
GP: Okay. I know we have a- Uh...Yeah. 'Tower Tall'.
JL: 'Tower Tall'?
GP: Yeah, that's...That's just a simple ballad but beautiful song.
JL: Right. Okay. Well, you're not singing that for us. You'll be singing another beautiful-
GP: I know <putting CD down on table>
JL: -song for us, I hope. What are you going to be singing for us later?
GP: A Bacharch and David song that was really the start of my entire career in-in this country...a fantastic song called '24 Hours From Tulsa'.
JL: Okay, and, uh, a few months you'll be doing a tour around the UK as well?
GP: Yeah, it's a massive one - twenty-five...uh...twenty-five concerts...It's...uh...up in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and all of England.
JL: Right. <Gene nods> Where's the energy from then? What keeps you going?
GP: I didn't get into that before. Th-the fitness thing is <clears throat> is working out with a trainer, um, three or four times a week and I have a gym at home as well.
GP: And the criteria on the road is that each hotel has to have a gym and a swimming pool.
JL: (slight chuckle)
GP: And it's been fantastic for me.
GP: I mean, whereas I used to do a-a show of maybe sixty minutes and come off sweating and really have to crash, you know, after that. I work out in the afternoon - which I never thought would happen - for, like, an hour and a half and then do an hour and a half on stage and feel wonderful.
GP: And my trainer is twenty-two and lovely as well.
JL: Well, that always helps!
GP: So that...That will pump you.
JL: I've got your secret evetually!
JL: Well, Gene, it's a pleasure. Look forward to hearing you singing.
GP: Thank you.
JL: <to camera> In just a moment, everyone's favourite - as the man says - '24 Hours From Tulsa'. Uh...We'll look forward to that shortly.
GP: Thank you <shake each others' hand>
JL: Thanks Gene.
Transcriber's note: Am I the only one ready to slap John Leslie in the face if he says 'Right' one more time???