Del Shannon

An incredible rock and roll singer whose heart also belonged to country music. He comes from the U.S. and scored a string of hits in the 60s. In ’61 he had his first big hit with ”Runaway” which was followed by others as people started noticing this singer with his smooth singing style. Among his other hits were”Keep Searchin’ (We’ll follow the Sun) and”Hats Off to Larry”.

Del Shannon’s last appearance onstage was on February 3, 1990 when he appeared with other rockers in North Dakota. Tragically on February 8, 1990 he died of a gunshot wound which was thought to be a suicide as he was suffering from depression.

He was born in Coopersville, Michigan as Charles Westover and learned to play the guitar otherwise he’d have followed in his daddy’s shoes and become a truck driver. Eventually he won a guitar talent contest and after the Army he began playing songs by his favorite country singer Hank Williams as well as the latest rock and roll hits.

It was at this time that he chose to take the name Del Shannon which was a contraction of Cadillac Coupe De’ville and the last name of a wrestler friend called Mark Shannon. It was a slow start for Del who continued working the club circuit but melodies kept going through his head. At the time he was working in a carpet store and wrote up the lyrics to a song. It was his store manager who had Del record this song when they heard it and by the time March of 1961 rolled around it had become a hit in the U.S. selling 80,000 copies a day and finally hit number one. The song was”Runaway”.

Afterward came a string of hits such as”So Long Baby”,”Hey! Little Girl”,”Little Town Flirt”. ”Handy Man” and”Stranger in Town”. Del Shannon didn’t score big with ”Swiss Maid” in 1962 but it was a hit in England and reached number two on the charts. Two singles that missed for him were “Sue’s Gotta Be Mine” and “That’s the Way Love Is”.

Doing a show at The Albert Hall in London Shannon met the Beatles and he chose to record a John Lennon song”From Me to You”. This was at the time when the Beatles had not reached the U.S. yet and so this song became the first Lennon-McCartney hit to reach number 77 on the U.S. charts.

He did well by recording songs that did well for others such as “Rag Doll”, “Do You Wanna Dance” and “That’s the Way Love Is” among others.

Interestingly enough Del Shannon also set up his own record company in 1963 – Berlee Records and released some singles under this label one of them being ”Sue’s Gotta Be Mine”. Later Shannon dropped his record label and recorded on Amy Records. Shannon wrote a song called”I Go to Pieces” and it was recorded by Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon fame and became their first hit song in 1965 which wasn’t written by The Beatles.

Shannon went on to record under the Liberty Records label but didn’t do well in the U.S. and gathered fans in Australia and the Philippines instead. Shannon got a big surprise in Las Vegas in 1969 when Elvis Presley sang his song ”Runaway” and introduced him from the audience. His music can still be heard on the radio today and in 1999 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

© 2016 Gypsy Rose Lee

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Comments 12 comments

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 6 months ago from london

Another talented one but sad story. Some Rock n Roll, feel good sentimental beats. Nice!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 months ago from Olympia, WA

It's like playing music trivia. You say Del Shannon and I say "Runaway." I love this series. This is the music I grew up on.


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 6 months ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Very nice article, Gypsy. I saw Del in Birmingham, England in 1973. After his set he sat at our table, though he was more interested in my female cousins.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Thank you. I still recall the girl fondly that I called runaway.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 6 months ago from Southern Illinois

This was great Rasma. I remember his songs. So sad that he committed suicide. I do enjoy reading the life stories of artists. Thank you much...


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 6 months ago

I loved Del Shannon and his music. I'm not sure I knew that he was dead or how he died. How tragic.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 6 months ago from Riga, Latvia Author

Thank you Manatita. I really hate it when talented people feel the need to suddenly end their lives. Such a waste of talent.

Glad you enjoyed this Bill. You know it's funny that way. I write these up and as I pick the music some of which I haven't heard in a long time I can still sing along with each single word.

That's a wonderful memory Harald. Sure wish I could of met some of my favorite celebrities.

You welcome Eric. Glad this brought you down memory lane.

You welcome Ruby. It does make me sad when such talented people feel the need to do away with themselves.

Yes, MizBejabbers I would rather all of these talents would grow old and continue to rock as some of them do.


shprd74 profile image

shprd74 6 months ago from Bangalore

Great tribute. Gypsy.

I loved the 'from me to you'.

Those were the times of twists, Such fun music those days had.

- Hari


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 months ago from Riga, Latvia Author

Yes, music was quite different in those days and I still enjoy the oldies Hari.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 5 months ago from Central Florida

It must have been such a thrill for Del Shannon to hear Elvis sing his song - and pull him out of the audience during a performance!

I sure hope the suspicions of him committing suicide are unfounded. Then again, I guess his death would have been further investigated had it been unlikely.

I love this series, Rasma. You always manage to bring forgotten memories forward.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 5 months ago from Riga, Latvia Author

Glad your enjoying these music hubs Shauna. I enjoy writing them but it is still hit and miss. I have so much going on that when they tell me my hub is a duplicate only I don't know a duplicate of what because I check these over carefully myself then I don't argue I just delete. My hub on Cream has just gone with the wind but a new one is coming. Hope you're having an inspirational and progressive week.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 5 months ago from Central Florida

I look forward to it. I love Cream!

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    Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee625 Followers
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    I'm a writer, a poet, a dreamer. Born and raised in New York City. I live in the suburbs of Riga, Latvia with my hubby, Martin and cat Sid.



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