Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Doo-Wop and Soul Singer Eugene Pitt Passes Away Aged 80 (Updated)

Doo-wop and soul singer Eugene Pitt has sadly passed away at the age of 80. Pitt was the lead singer for Eugene Pitt & The Jive Five, who created doo-wop classics such as "My True Story", "Never, Never", and "What Time Is It?", and who are widely credited in helping Nickelodeon become the number one channel for kids in the '80s.

In 1985, Pitt and The Jive Five were introduced to New York cable TV branding consultants Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman of Fred/Alan Inc. by his latest producer, Ambient Sound's Marty Pekar. Together with Fred/Alan producer Tom Pomposello they embarked on an almost ten-year relationship, creating and singing the a cappella signature sound of the Nickelodeon, one of the first popular network specialized cable television channels. They used the group to write and record some of the most memorable advertising jingles of their day with the iconic catch phrase, "Nick-Nick-Nick", performed in a doo wop style. They also sang jingles for Nickelodeon's early Kid's Choice Awards, and later, they worked on ID's for HBO Family in 1999. When Fred/Alan Inc. relaunched Nickelodeon in the 1980s, they helped to move the kids' television network from worst to first in the ratings in the six months.

Stated on the group's Facebook page: "~~~It is with a heavy heart that I announce, on behalf of the Pitt family, the passing early this morning of the legendary lead singer of Eugene Pitt & The Jive Five, Mr. Eugene Pitt. Eugene had been ill for some time, but was in good spirits with love for his family, friends and fans. My heart breaks for his family and close friends. I ask for people to respect the family's privacy at this time. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date. The best of the best has joined the heavenly choir. Rest In Peace, my friend. Godspeed and God Bless.~~~ Mary Garcelon".

In tribute to the Nickelodeon legend, please enjoy a montage of Eugene Pitt & The Jive Five's iconic Nickelodeon Ident's in the video below. More information about how Eugene Pitt & The Jive Five became the signature sound of Nickelodeon in the '80s can be read here on fredalan.org.

Fred/Alan IDs 1985-1991 from fredseibert on Vimeo.

R.I.P. Eugene Pitt, November 6, 1937 – June 29, 2018.

Update (7/2) - Fred Seibert has paid tribute to the life and work of Eugene Pitt in his latest Tumblr blog post:

R.I.P. Eugene Pitt

I’ve been singing all the great Eugene Pitt & The Jive Five Nickelodeon doo-wops (more about them here) to myself for the past 24 hours, since I got the sad news of Eugene’s passing, so I thought I’d share a few. Of course, if you’re a certain age –somewhere around 40– you probably already know them. Older or younger, not so much. But with its initial explosion of popularity, Eugene Pitt was the sound of Nickelodeon.


“Hon De Laud Hup Hivel Up Nick..”

“Aren’t you glad {You’re watchin’!} you’ve got your Nickelodeon?” (AKA, Orange You Glad)

There’s a lot one can say about this extraordinary talent, but Terry Stewart, ex-CEO of the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame and Marvel Comics, said it best.

“Eugene Pitt is the most underrated soul singer in America.”

My ex-partners Alan Goodman and Tom Pomposello could only completely agree. We’ve always been excited, but completely confused, that The Jive Five were more famous for our work together on Nickelodeon than for their own fabulous recordings (their greatest hits playlist is below).

In fact, it was Alan’s persuasion that convinced Nick’s power that were that a 30 year past-its-prime musical style should represent the channel to the children of the world.

When management was skeptical Alan went right for it. He opened his mouth and, quoting The Marcels’ arrangement of chestnut “Blue Moon,” sang:

Bom-ma-bom, a-bom-bom-a-bom, ba-ba-bom-bom-a-bomp, b-dang-a-dang-dang, b-ding-a-dong-ding.

“What kid isn’t going to love that right away?” Alan asked.

Case closed.

Eugene Pitt was introduced to us by music advertising copywriter-turned-music producer Marty Pekar. His Ambient Sound label was busy resurrecting the careers of doo-wop singers during the 80s, and we asked his advice for an a cappella group for some of our work.

“The only one I could recommend, in good conscience,” said Marty, “would be Eugene Pitt. He’s not only fantastic, he’s really smart. He’ll have ideas of his own and make sure the band is rehearsed and on time. A rarity with singing groups.”

Marty was right, and we started a decade long relationship that was exceptional.

Here’s a few of Eugene bonuses. Check out this post about the day that Eugene worked with Aaron Neville and Keith Richards, recording Eugene’s composition “My True Story.” You can hear the Jive 5 rendition, and some of their greatest hits in the playlist below.

And then there’s a unique performance of the group that Alan just digitized from a funky VHS he has. It’s the very first Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards at Universal City. Alan and our partner/producer Albie Hecht decked the Jive 5 out in Nickelodeon orange performance tuxedos and they gave a unique, exuberant rendition of the awards rules. Choice!


Originally published: Saturday, June 30, 2018.

Original source: AllAccess.com; Additional source: Wikipedia (I, II, III).

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