Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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SHANNON, Del

(b Charles Westover, 30 Dec. '39, Coopersville MI; d 8 Feb. '90, suicide) His driver's licence said he was born '34. Rock'n'roll singer/songwriter infl. by Hank Williams. Played and sang in local clubs, working in a carpet store days; his falsetto first came to notice on 'Runaway' (no. 1 USA/UK '61), aided by a nagging riff on the Musitron (forerunner of the synthesizer): one of the most distinctive records of its era. His only other top tens were 'Hats Off To Larry' the same year, 'Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow The Sun)' '64, but he had 16 Hot 100 chart entries '61-- 6; he was influential and popular in the UK, where he had eight top tens. His 'I Go To Pieces' was a US top ten '65 by Peter and Gordon, and was also covered by Nils Lofgren. On a UK tour '63 he met the Beatles and was the first US artist to cover a Beatles song ('From Me To You'). Little Town Flirt '63 was a no. 12 LP, an above-average pop album of the period; he celebrated his roots in Del Shannon Sings Hank Williams '65. He was one of the few of his era to write and record his own songs, collecting royalties on 200 cover versions of 'Runaway'. He made an album in London '67 with Andrew Loog Oldham, never released; oversaw his friend Brian Hyland's comeback, prod. 'Gypsy Woman', a US no. 3; Del Shannon Live In England '72 was a good live set, with his inimitable yodel. He worked with Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne '73, made single 'And The Music Plays On' '74 with Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe; album Drop Down And Get Me '83 prod. by Tom Petty charted in USA with single 'Sea Of Love' (top 40), cover of Rolling Stones' 'Out Of Time' and his own 'Sucker For Your Love'.