Del Shannon Biography
Del Shannon (born Charles Weedon Westover) was an American rock and roll country musician, singer, and composer best known for his number one Billboard single “Runaway” in 1961.
Shannon was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on December 30, 1934, to Bert and Leone Mosher Westover, and grew up in Coopersville. He learnt to play the ukulele and guitar and listened to Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and Lefty Frizzell’s country and western music. In 1954, he was drafted into the Army and played guitar in a band named The Cool Flames while stationed in Germany.
He returned to Battle Creek, Michigan, after his military service, he worked as a carpet salesman and a furniture manufacturing truck driver. He obtained part-time work at the Hi-Lo Club as a rhythm guitarist with singer Doug DeMott’s band, The Moonlight Ramblers.
Shannon recorded his first song, “Runaway,” in 1961, after playing in bands as a teenager in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This tribute to lost love (a recurrent theme in Shannon’s songs) topped the charts, punctuated by his signature falsetto howls. “Hats Off to Larry,” “So Long Baby,” “Hey! Little Girl” (both 1961), “Little Town Flirt” (1963), “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun)” (1964), and “Stranger in Town” (1965) were among the singles that followed (1965).
Simple, ringing chord changes and Shannon’s gravelly, lively baritone, always poised to rise into higher registers of longing and hurt, characterized all of them. Shannon also penned “I Go to Pieces,” a hit for the British pair Peter and Gordon in 1965, and overcame a foolish attempt by producer Snuff Garrett and arranger Leon Russell to turn him into a teen idol. In the 1970s, he recorded with Electric Light Orchestra and Dave Edmunds in between fights with alcoholism. Tom Petty produced and featured his band, the Heartbreakers, on Drop Down and Get Me (1982), a good album that had a small commercial success.
As a songwriter, he had a top-ten hit in 1986 when Juice Newton’s copy of Shannon’s “Cheap Love” was released as a single and reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot Country chart.
Luis Cardenas, the drummer for Renegade, recorded a cover of Shannon’s hit “Runaway” in 1986. Shannon made a surprise appearance as a police officer in the video for the song, which included stop-animation dinosaurs.
Shannon had a resurgence of popularity after re-recording “Runaway” with new lyrics as the theme for the NBC-TV program Crime Story. He performed “The World We Know” with the Smithereens on their Green Thoughts album in 1988. He recorded with Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra two years later, and there were rumors that he would join the Traveling Wilburys after Roy Orbison‘s death. Shannon had previously recorded tracks with Lynne in 1975, as well as “In My Arms Again,” a country song he penned and recorded for Warner Bros. Records, which he had signed in 1984.
Shannon battled depression in the years preceding up to his death. He committed suicide on February 8, 1990, at his house in Santa Clarita, California, by shooting himself with a.22 calibre rifle. Shannon’s ashes were strewn when he was cremated. Following his passing, the Traveling Wilburys recorded a cover of “Runaway” in his honor.
Shannon’s posthumous album, Rock On, issued by Silvertone Records in 1991, was also co-produced by Jeff Lynne. Shannon was honored with a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1999. The Michigan Rock & Roll Legends Hall of Fame inducted Del Shannon in 2005.
Following Shannon’s death, a scholarship fund was established in his honor. A Del Shannon Car Show is held every year in Coopersville, Michigan.
Del Shannon Discography
|Live In England|
|The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover|
|This Is My Bag|
|Sings Hank Williams|
|One Thousand Six Hundred Sixty One Seconds With Del Shannon|
|Little Town Flirt|
|Hats Off To Del Shannon|
|Runaway With Del Shannon|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Del Shannon Old Name?
Del Shannon’s birth name was Charles Weedon Westover. He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on December 30, 1934. Shannon’s first recorded song, “Little Town Flirt”, was a hit in 1962. His best-known songs are “Runaway” and “Drop Down and Get Me”. Shannon died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 8, 1990.
Who Wrote Del Shannon’S Runaway?
Del Shannon’s Runaway was written by Del Shannon.
Which Song Del Shannon Became Famous?
“Runaway” is the song that made Del Shannon famous. It was a massive hit in 1961, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, and its popularity has only grown with time.
Did Del Shannon Write His Own Songs?
Yes, Del Shannon wrote his own songs. He is credited as a co-writer on some songs, but he was the primary writer of most of his hits. Shannon also produced some of his own records.
Is Del Shannon Wrote Hats Off To Larry?
Yes, Del Shannon wrote the song “Hats Off to Larry.” It was released as a single in 1961 and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was written about Shannon’s friend, Larry Williams, who was a successful R&B singer and songwriter. Williams died in 1980.