Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Why is “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” not heard anywhere in the film of the same title? The song clearly tells the same western story as the movie script, and should be the theme. What happened?

Not even the all-knowing Internet Movie Data Base mentions this most unusual situation, so anything you can tell me will be appreciated.

Also, what was determined to be the cause of Gene's sudden death?
—Cheryl Gifford, Vincennes, Ind.

DEAR CHERYL: Gene Pitney (February 17, 1940 - April 5, 2006) was found dead in his hotel room in Cardiff, Wales. His body was discovered by his tour manager, who went to check on Gene when he didn't answer his phone. Pitney was at the time in the midst of a very successful UK tour.

An autopsy confirmed the cause of death to be heart disease, more specifically ASVD (arteriosclerotic vascular disease) reflecting enlarged artery walls due to excessive fatty matter.

A few years earlier, in an e-mail we received, Gene admitted even he didn't know the exact reason his theme song never made it into the film:

“Because of my prior success with “Town Without Pity,” I was paid a bundle to record “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Burt Bacharach wrote the song with Hal David, and Burt produced it.

“However, there was some screw-up between the publishing company, Famous Music, and the parent company, Paramount Pictures, and that is why it never was in the actual film.

“The most bizarre part of the story is something I only found out a few years ago, which is that the actual music, the main theme, used in the film is from a 1939 Henry Fonda film titled “Young Mister Lincoln.” Go figure that out!

“Regards, Gene Pitney”

DEAR JERRY: One of my favorite genres of collecting is recordings made by celebrities more famous for something other than music.

I have records by actors; sports stars; politicians; and even criminals.

Years ago I read about an album by David Jansen, the actor in “The Fugitive” TV show.

Having never laid eyes on such an LP, it would help if I knew the title, label, and any other details you can provide.

I don't even know if he sings or just plays an instrument.
—Rocky Fresnell, Seattle, Wash.

DEAR ROCKY: David Janssen (note correct spelling), with the Tradewinds Orchestra and Chorus, recorded one album for Epic, titled “The Hidden Island (A Compelling Story of Love's Secret Moments and Tender Emotions).” This 1965 issue came in both mono (LN-24150) and stereo (BN-26150).

David neither sings nor plays; however, he narrates these stories.

Janssen is also the narrator on a Bicentennial (1976) production made exclusively for the National Guard: “Voices of Freedom (The Story of America's Citizen Soldier in the National Guard)” (NG-1000).

Accompanying David on these tracks is The United States Air Force Symphony in Blue and the Singing Sergeants.

IZ ZAT SO? Though David Janssen didn't make the charts with his Epic album, quite a few celebrities from other fields do have hit records to their credit.

Here is an alphabetical sampling of familiar names in this category: Annette; Ann-Margret; Jim Backus; Barbie Benton; Walter Brennan; George Burns; Edd Byrnes; Cassius Clay; Johnny Crawford; Dennis Day; Mike Douglas; Shelley Fabares; Stan Freberg; Jackie Gleason; Bill Hayes; Wink Martindale; Robert Mitchum; Leonard Nimoy; Ken Nordine; Paul Petersen; Red Skelton; John Tesh; John Travolta; and John Wayne.

Though he didn't make the charts, the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, recorded an entertaining collection of, in his words, “mood music in a jugular vein.” The title of this 1958 LP is “Music to Be Murdered By” (Imperial 9052).

The lush orchestrations of standards are provided by Jeff Alexander and His Orchestra, but Hitchcock introduces each of the 10 tracks with some humorous commentary.

My favorite of these Hitchcockian quips precedes “I'll Never Smile Again”:

“It was inevitable that I would make a record. After all, my measurements are 33 1/3, 45 and 78.”

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