This name probably won’t ring a bell unless you’re well over forty and/or listen to lots of oldies stations. Gene Pitney had a string of hits in the early and mid-1960s. He was found dead in a hotel room in Wales a few days ago.
He wrote some of his own songs, and also wrote hits for other people, including the Crystals and Ricky Nelson. He wasn't at all bluesy or hard-rock, but his songs were beautiful and he sang with passion and sincerity. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
I saw him in concert in New Haven, CT in 1965, along with the Crystals and the Reflections (they had a big hit with “Just Like Romeo and Juliet” and then promptly fell off the edge of the earth). There was so much screaming in the audience, you couldn’t even hear any of the music. During Gene Pitney’s set, some of the audience jumped up on the stage and tried to grab him, and the concert was cut short.
He was 65 years old. He had no health problems, according to friends, but nobody suspects foul play. (He wasn’t exactly a controversial figure.)
His best songs (IMHO) were “Town Without Pity” (Ronnie Montrose does a dynamite instrumental version of that song), “Looking Through the Eyes of Love,” “Half Heaven Half Heartache,” and “It Hurts To Be In Love.”