LONDON – Gene Pitney, whose keening tenor voice produced a string of hits including "Town Without Pity" was found dead in his hotel room in Wales Wednesday following a concert that fans acclaimed as one of his best. He was 65.
Pitney apparently died of natural causes, police said. He was staying in a hotel in Cardiff, Wales where he had played a concert Tuesday night during a tour in Britain.
"Last night was one of the best performances, not vocally, but from the enthusiasm. He just wanted to please — and he did," said Wendy Horton, who reviewed Tuesday night's concert for the South Wales Echo newspaper.
Nigel Corten, who reviewed the show for the South Wales Argus, said Pitney appeared to be healthy during the show.
"It came through in his voice because he really let it rip. If you are ill, that would be one of the first things to show it," he said. "The audience were in raptures."
During a long career, Pitney had hits as a singer — "24 Hours from Tulsa," "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance," and "Half Heaven, Half Heartache." As a writer, he penned "Hello Mary Lou" for Ricky Nelson and "Rubber Ball" for Bobby Vee.
In 1962, Pitney had the top two songs on the U.S. chart — his rendition of "Only Love Can Break a Heart" was at No. 2, just behind a song he wrote for The Crystals, "He's a Rebel."
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
"We don't have a cause of death at the moment but looks like it wasright and the people who worked with him, knew this," Terry said.
Pitney said he wrote many of his best songs, including "Hello, Mary Lou," in his candy-apple red 1935 Ford coupe, parked near a Rockville reservoir.
He is survived by his wife and three sons.