Gene Pitney tribute show

the ultimate Gene Pitney tribute show


Tony recieving the award of life time Honorary Membership of the

 Gene Pitney Commemorative Committee in Rockville, Con, USA.

In the picture are Tony, Cliff Edwards and Wild Wayne.



A Weekend To Remember



By Cliff Edwards, GPCC President

TONY LEE performing his moving “Tribute to Gene Pitney Show”

Saturday and Sunday, October 4th & 5th was a weekend for remembering!

The Gene Pitney Commemorative Committee did just that… with the help of Russ’s Rock & Roll Diner, they co-hosted

Rockville’s first ever “International Fan Convention & Gene Pitney Tribute Show” starring England’s own TONY LEE and

New York’s SHADES OF SOUL, a 3-man singing group who provided some wonderful harmonies to open Tony’s show!

Saturday afternoon began with a cozy “Meet and Greet” Fan Convention held in the main hall of the original KOSCIUZKO

CLUB, which by the way, was the same club that Gene Pitney made some of his earliest professional singing appearances

at in 1958… 50 years ago! The convention also offered souvenirs (over 2,000 collectible items on sale), special guests

from  Gene’s storied past (Bob Terry and Dick Spurling – original members of Gene’s first group, “The Genials”, Larry

Harper – original member of The Embers, one of Gene’s first backup groups, Anita Basile – half of the singing group

“The Marie Sisters” who appeared with Gene on several of his early shows, and Joe Angiolillo – author of Gene’s

biographical book “Gene Pitney - His Climb to International Success”).                                                                                                                                                                            Ken Kojak, a guest DJ who introduced SHADES OF SOUL

, was also on hand to talk about his experiences and share stories about what Gene’s peers had to say about him.

One of the highlights of the afternoon was the private showing of some old film footage and sharing of rare and

unreleased music from members and Gene’s archives… the fans were awed by some of the rarest songs and images of

Gene they had ever seen. To cap it off, Gene’s family had donated his original red sweater that had been worn for photo

sessions for his album covers and some lucky attendee wound up taking it home later in the evening!


The audience was a marvelous mix of local and out of town visitors… drawing people from such faraway places as Great

Britain, Wales, Australia, Scotland, New Zealand, Canada, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland,

South Carolina, Colorado and all over the state of Connecticut! It was like a mini-United Nations here! I cannot

remember any other time in my history in this town (65 years) when so many people came here on purpose for a show

of any kind!

The evening was even more special… KEN KOJAK opened the night’s program with snippets of other artists sharing their

memories of Gene

… stars such as BOBBY VEE, BARBARA HARRIS of The TOYS, Famed New York D.J. DON K. REED, BOBBY

JAY, and LESLIE GORE all honored Gene’s memory and then he brought on the SHADES OF SOUL, who dazzled everyone

with their wonderful vocal harmonies and great renditions of many soul and doo-wop classics… It was just fan-tastic!


After a brief intermission, WILD WAYNE (from WWUH’s long running “Rock & Roll Memory Machine” radio program)

introduce TONY LEE… who arrived to a standing ovation and launched into his own stirring rendition of Gene’s hit “24

Hours From Tulsa” which Gene had always opened his own shows with. Following several more unbelievable spinetingling

ventures into Gene’s hit vaults, TONY shared some of his memories of Gene and read some fan e-mails and

letters for the audience, a tradition that Gene himself followed for his live performances… It was touching and we could

all hear the emotion in Tony’s voice as he reflected on actually singing on the same stage that Gene sang on 50 years ago

this year! The karma of the event was incredible… and Tony’s performance reflected it!

Tony continued on with an eclectic mix of American and International favorites… he knew there were many UK fans in

the audience and they knew some songs that American audiences were not so familiar with…. songs like “24 Sycamore”,

“Take Me Tonight” and “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” (which by the way reached #1 on the charts in many

countries and was not even released here in 1988 by his record company… a move that stumps everyone to this day!)

Midway through his final set, he sang a special request song “Oceans Away” from 1976, that he had dubbed a special

mix for… Maurice Merry, Gene’s UK Music Director and friend provided a music background with Gene’s original voice

doing harmony on the chorus… and Tony allowed the harmony part to play by itself, while he provided the melody for

the rest of the song! It was a gesture that brought tears to Gene’s fans and added the perfect personal touch to an

electric night! By the time he sang the infamous “Town Without Pity” as a closer, the audience had been drained by

continuous applause but still called him back for a well-deserved encore!

At the end of the show, Cliff Edwards presented him with an Official Lifetime “Honorary Membership” to the GPCC… and

the crowd roared its approval! Everyone went home drained and a little teary-eyed… Gene was definitely watching over

them that night!

Sunday, although the day began a little soggy, by 1:30pm when the Parade stepped off the skies had cleared and the

floats rolled. As the lights from the Original PALACE Theater marquee flashed overhead, TONY LEE along with both

original members of Gene’s backup band, THE GENIALS, BOB TERRY and DICK SPURLING, sang and tapped drumsticks to

all of Gene’s best known hits for the appreciative crowds that lined Rte 83 on the 2.2 mile parade route.

This float not only honored Gene Pitney, but also the first venue that Gene played at, Rockville’s own PALACE THEATER,

which was torn down in the 60’s to make room for more parking lots. Riding on the float were members of the GPCC and

two “Teen” dancers… NANCY (MORSE) BAILEY, who rode the “Soda Shoppe” float in 1958 with Gene & The Genials, and

CORRINE LaCHAPELLE, the GPCC’s only Student Adviser. Even the bunting that covered the outside of the float was from

the Vernon Sesquicentennial Parade in 1958… donated by Stu and Norine Edwards. The overseas contingent from the

night before had all lined up at the Review stand at the end of the parade and gave a mighty cheer when the float finally

arrived! It was truly a magical ending to a magical weekend.

Dignitaries in the evening’s crowd included State Representative, CLAIRE JANOWSKI (pictured above) and BILL McGURK,

President of Rockville Bank (not pictured)

If you are interested in learning more about the evening or becoming a member of the GENE PITNEY COMMEMORATIVE

COMMITTEE, INC. please visit their website at or stop in and see Russ and Sandi at RUSS’S ROCK &

ROLL DINER in downtown Rockville.

Respectfully submitted by Cliff Edwards – 860-896-0834

No reproduction of this story is permitted without the express authority of the GPCC


Newest Members

Recent Photos