Pitney's first minor US
hits arrived in 1961 with his self-penned '(I Wanna) Love My Life Away', on which he played every instrument, and Goffin and King's 'Every Breath I Take', an early, typically extravagent Phil Spector production. However, he was more successful as a songwriter, composing Bobby Vee
's 'Rubber Ball', Ricky Nelson's 'Hello Mary Lou' and The Crystals' 'He's A Rebel'.
But once he began touring extensively, Pitney neglected songwriting and his mid-60s smashes were written by others, such as Bacharach
and David's 'Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa' (1963) Jagger/Richards' 'That Girl Belongs To Yesterday' (1964), Mann/Weill's 'I'm Gonna Be Strong' (1964) and Cook/Greenaway's 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart' (1967).
He also recorded Country albums with George Jones, but his classic hits were entertainingly over-the-top, melodramatic ballads, with Pitney struggling manfully with his emotions or conscience- his voice powerful, his diction precise. But Marianne Faithfull- with whom he toured and had an affair in 1965- tarred him as a 'most pompous, self-satisfied person'.
After the hits had dried up, he remained a popular live performer. In 1989, he surprisingly returned to the top of the UK chart, duetting on a remake of 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart
' with Marc Almond.