Question: I feel Gene Pitney is one of the really great pop singers of my generation. Thankfully, he is still very active and performing, often in the New England area.
In that regard, Gene did a show at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut last summer, one that was recorded, supposedly to be televised soon on PBS.
I checked the PBS Web site and programming schedule but find no mention of it. Can you dig up information on this? _ Michelle Dole, York, Pa.
Answer: The man himself, Gene Pitney, provides you with an update:
"We just finished mixing the audio track on the tester, or demo, tape of six songs for PBS. This is a short version of some songs in the show, and it gets sent out to affiliates to see if they are interested in showing the complete concert when it comes out in the first week of March.
"I know they are sending the demo tape to places like Buffalo, Dallas and Philadelphia. If your station wants to see the test program, they can request it from Larry Rifkin, who is my co-producer, at CPTV in Hartford. Conn. The phone number is (860) 278-5310, and the fax is (860) 278-2157.
"By the way, it came out super, and I can't wait to get to work on the audio of the entire show, which is much more diversified than the short tester.
"Have some great holidays, and stay well." _ Gene Pitney, Hartford, Conn.
Country Christmas hits
Question: We've been hearing the music of the holidays, and it got me reflecting. My thinking hit a roadblock, one that I know you can clear for me.
One of the best-known and top-selling of all Christmas songs is Gene Autry's Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but I know Autry also had other holiday hits. One you rarely hear, but that I recall, is Here Comes Santa Claus.
So I was wondering just how many Christmas hits Gene had in his lengthy career, and if anyone had more than he. Perhaps another old-timer, like Johnny Cash or Eddy Arnold? _ Connie O'Day, Shenandoah, Va.
Answer: It is hard to find anyone in either the country or the western field of music with more holiday hits than Gene Autry. His four are Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer; Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane); Frosty the Snowman; and The Night Before Christmas Song.
Relative newcomer Alan Jackson does, however, tie the Singing Cowboy in this department. His tunes are I Only Want You for Christmas, A Holly Jolly Christmas, Honky Tonk Christmas and a 1996 remake of Autry's Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Eddy Arnold has three to his credit: Will Santy Come to Shanty Town, C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S and Christmas Can't Be Far Away.
Johnny Cash has but one Christmas tune among his 150 or so hits, and that is The Little Drummer Boy.
IZ ZAT SO? Besides Johnny Cash, seven other artists have charted with versions of The Little Drummer Boy (Harry Simeone Chorale, Jack Halloran Singers, Johnny Mathis, Joan Baez, Kenny Burrell, Lou Rawls and Moonlion), making it the Christmas tune with the most charted versions.
Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368; e-mail jojerryosborne.com; or visit his Web site: http:// www.jerryosborne.com.