The “Runaway” singer was born on this day in 1934
Remembering Del Shannon on his birthday
Del Shannon was born Charles Weedon Westover on December 30, 1934 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He learned to paly the ukulele and guitar and listened to country-and-western music, by artists such as Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and Lefty Frizzell. He was drafted into the Army in 1954, and while in Germany played guitar in a band called “The Cool Flames”. When his service ended, he returned to Battle Creek, Michigan, and worked as a carpet salesman and as a truck driver for a furniture factory, it was during that period Del started to thought about music as a full time occupation. During the early 1960’s he went to New York where he recorded the song that would become his biggest hit and one of Rock N’ Roll’s most memorable one, “Runaway”. The song was released as a single in February 1961, reaching number 1 on the Billboard chart in April. Shannon followed with “Hats Off to Larry”, which peaked at number 5 on the Billboard chart and number 2 on the Cashbox chart in 1961, and the less popular “So Long, Baby”. . After these hits, Shannon was unable to keep his momentum in the U.S. but had continued success in England, where he had always been more popular. In 1963, he became the first American to record a cover version of a song by the Beatles: his version of “From Me to You” charted in the U.S. before the Beatles’ version. Despite remaining a popular name and “Runaway” a song with constant airplay, Shannon was never able to meet the same type of success he had during the early 1960’s. Suffering from depression, Del Shannon committed suicide on February 8, 1990, killing himself with a .22-caliber rifle at his home in Santa Clarita, California. He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered. Shannon was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Look back at Del Shannon performing “Runaway” in 1961
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