THE MUSIC OF GENE PITNEY (1941-2006)

What: A Gene Pitney Retrospective
When: Monday, June 11th 2007, 7PM
Where: Dakota Bar & Grill, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Tickets: 612.332.1010
Online: dakotacooks.com


In June of 1986,
I got a call from Gene Pitney’s manager asking me to put a 12 piece band together FAST and come out to Rhode Island to finish a short tour with Mr. Pitney (the preceding band had a small accident with their bus). I got the job because I knew all the parts to all of Gene's hits, and could play bass, piano, and guitar. That first tour I played bass, 2nd season guitar, and third season moved to piano as music director.

His music appealed to me on so many levels; as a writer of music I appreciated how well the songs were written by writers such as Bacharach/David, Goffin/King, Mann and Weill, all products of the Brill Building in NYC, a latter day fixture of Tin Pan Alley. I loved his voice. If he and Connie Francis had ever sung together there COULDN'T have been a dry eye in the house.

AND, Gene, it turns out, was the last of a breed of pop performers: tuxedos, spit and polish, totally scripted performances, generous in his praise, committed to using real instruments (a string and horn section) when all around him were caving to the MIDI craze. He was sane, fair, calm, drug-free, a very ordinary man (by his own admission) with an extraordinary gift. When I was at the funeral… that is when I came to understand him. He was, to everyone, 'just Gene', but on stage, in total command of his environment. We played a wide assortment of venues: from a Park and Recreation flatbed in Miles City, Montana (in the rain, no less) to a sold out house at Carnegie Hall the day terrorists hit the World Trade Center the FIRST time. During the last few years, the traditional employer/employee line began to blur, much, I believe, to the relief of both Gene and myself. Perhaps it was age, perhaps it was the genuine kindness and loyalty he felt for me as I was going through some tremendous upheavals in my personal life. It was a distinct honor to have performed with him for all these years, the pinnacle of my life in show business, and I will miss him, we all will miss him, dearly.

"Now" seems to be a bit rushed, the emotional waters have not calmed sufficiently, but perhaps that makes a statement like this all the more timely for its poignancy. I hope to see you there. It’s been a long, wonderful trip.

Gary

GENE'S NORTH AMERICAN QUARTET

David Singley, guitars
Peter Johnson, drums
Michael O'Brien, bass
Gary Rue, piano

Vocals: Prudence Johnson, Karen Paurus and Mary Jane Alm
Violins: Liz Decker, Carolyn Boulay, Lorie Hippen and Steve Leung
Trumpets: Dave Jensen, Bob Hallgrimson
Reeds: Kathy Jensen
Trombone: Wade Clark


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