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Del Shannon

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Biography

One of the best and most original rockers of the early '60s, Del Shannon was also one of the least typical. Although classified at times as a teen idol, he favored brooding themes of abandonment, loss, and rejection. In some respects he looked forward to the British Invasion with his frequent use of minor chords and his ability to write most of his own material. In fact, Shannon was able to keep going strong for a year or two into the British Invasion, and never stopped trying to play original music, though his commercial prospects pretty much died after the mid-'60s. Born Charles Westover, Shannon happened upon a gripping series of minor chords while playing with his band in Battle Creek, MI. The chords would form the basis for his 1961 debut single, "Runaway," one of the greatest hits of the early '60s, with its unforgettable riffs, Shannon's amazing vocal range (which often glided off into a powerful falsetto), and the creepy, futuristic organ solo in the middle. It made number one, and the similar follow-up, "Hats Off to Larry," also made the Top Ten. Shannon had intermittent minor hits over the next couple of years ("Little Town Flirt" was the biggest), but was even more successful in England, where he was huge. On one of his European tours in 1963, he played some shows with the Beatles, who had just scored their first big British hits. Shannon, impressed by what he heard, would become the first American artist to cover a Beatles song when he recorded "From Me to You" for a 1963 single (although it would give him only a very small hit). Shannon's melodic style had some similarities with the burgeoning pop/rock wing of the British Invasion, and in 1965, Peter & Gordon would cover a Shannon composition, "I Go to Pieces," for a Top Ten hit. Del got into the Top Ten with a late-1964 single, "Keep Searchin'," that was one of his best and hardest-rocking outings. But after the similar "Stranger in Town" (number 30, 1965), he wouldn't enter the Top 40 again for nearly a couple of decades. A switch to a bigger label (Liberty) didn't bring the expected commercial results, although he was continuing to release quality singles. Part of the problem was that some of these were a bit too eager to recycle some of his stock minor-keyed riffs, as good as his prototype was. A brief association with producer Andrew Loog Oldham (also manager/producer of the Rolling Stones) found him continuing to evolve, developing a more Baroque, orchestrated pop/rock sound, and employing British session musicians such as Nicky Hopkins. Much to Shannon's frustration, Liberty decided not to release the album that resulted from the collaboration (some of the material appeared on singles, and much of the rest of the sessions would eventually be issued for the collector market). By the late '60s, Shannon was devoting much of his energy to producing other artists, most notably Smith and Brian Hyland. Shannon was a perennially popular artist on the oldies circuit (particularly in Europe, where he had an especially devoted audience), and was always up for a comeback attempt on record. Sessions with Jeff Lynne and Dave Edmunds in the '70s didn't amount to much, but an early-'80s album produced by Tom Petty (and featuring members of the Heartbreakers as backing musicians) got him into the Top 40 again with a cover of "Sea of Love." He was working on another comeback album with Jeff Lynne, and sometimes rumored as a replacement for Roy Orbison in the Traveling Wilburys, when he unexpectedly killed himself on February 8, 1990, while on anti-depressant drugs. ~ Richie Unterberger
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Runaway
  3.   Hats Off to Larry
  4.   Little Town Flirt
  5.   Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)
  6.   Stranger in Town
  7.   Ginny in the Mirror
  8.   Runnaway
  9.   Runaway (151 BPM)
  10.   Runaround Sue
  11.   Dream Baby
  12.   Do You Want to Dance?
  13.   I Wish I Wasn't Me Tonight
  14.   Cut and Come Again
  15.   Easy to Say
  16.   Hey Little Girl
  17.   Runway
  18.   Move It on Over
  19.   Twist and Shout
  20.   Mary Jane
  21.   Walk Away
  22.   I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)
  23.   Led Along
  24.   Mind Over Matter
  25.   Hey, Good Lookin'
  26.   This Feeling Called Love
  27.   Misery
  28.   Non-alcoholic Beverage
  29.   hey1 Litle Girl
  30.   Love, It Don't Come Easy
  31.   Raylene
  32.   Love Letters
  33.   Cry Yourself to Sleep
  34.   I'm Gonne Be Strong
  35.   Lonesome Whistle Blues
  36.   Hats of to Larry
  37.   Songwriter
  38.   You Don't Know What You've Got (Until You Lose It)
  39.   Nobody's Business
  40.   One Woman Man
  41.   Swiss Miss
  42.   You Never Talk About Me
  43.   Pepsi Commercial #3
  44.   Pepsi Commercial #2
  45.   Pepsi Commercial #1
  46.   One Kiss
  47.   Honey Bee
  48.   Time Marches On
  49.   A Girl of My Own
  50.   I Guess I'll Never Really Know
  51.   Condemned to Die
  52.   Angel of Love
  53.   Rest Your Mind
  54.   Pardon Me (I Guess I'm in the Way)
  55.   Do You Wanna Dance
  56.   Stand Up
  57.   In My Arms Again
  58.   I Think I Love You
  59.   He Cheated
  60.   Silver Birch
  61.   This Is All I Have to Give
  62.   The Wamboo
  63.   I Don't Care Any More
  64.   The Answer to Everything
  65.   The Snake
  66.   Hot Love
  67.   Runaway '67
  68.   I'm Gonna Move On
  69.   Ruby Baby
  70.   I Can't Believe My Ears
  71.   For a Little While
  72.   He Doesn't Care
  73.   Lies
  74.   I'll Always Love You
  75.   The Search
  76.   The Prom
  77.   His Latest Flame