A Bit Like You And Me Radio

July 11, 2013

Del Shannon - Runaway (1961)

Born Charles Weedon Westover on December 30, 1934, this Michigan native began his musical talents by playing the ukulele at a young age. Influenced by country and western artists such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, Westover joined a band called The Cool Flames in Germany, after having been drafted into the Army in 1954. Upon his discharge, Westover returned to Michigan and began work as a truck driver and salesman while part-timing in band called the Moonlight Ramblers. By 1958, the band’s frontman had parted ways and Westover and taken his spot. He renamed the band The Big Little Show Band and began calling himself Charlie Johnson. In July 1960, Westover (Charlie Johnson) and fellow bandmate Max Crook were signed by Bigtop Records and persuaded to change their stage names. Westover combined the names of Shannon Kavanagh and the Cadillac Coupe de Ville, his favorite car, and became Del Shannon. Max Crook renamed himself Maximilian. Relocating to New York City, Del Shannon soon recorded his signature song, heard below, and reached the top of the charts around the world. He followed up his break-out hit with a bunch of less-successful singles until fading out of the spotlight almost entirely. By 1970, Shannon’s lack of success was numbed by a heavy dependency on alcohol. It wasn’t until the mid-'70s that he put down the bottle and began working with artists such as Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Although his 1981 release “Sea of Love” didn’t reach the same level of success as he had experienced in the past, it reached a respectable number thirty-three on the US charts. In 1988, Roy Orbison of The Traveling Wilburys passed away. It was rumored at the time that Shannon was going to be brought into the group as his replacement, having previously worked with its members, Petty and Lynne. For unknown reasons, it never happened. Sadly, in 1990, at the age of fifty-five, Del Shannon took his own life with a rifle at his home in Santa Clarita, California. In tribute, The Traveling Wilburys recorded their own version of the song heard below.

When arriving in New York City, Del Shannon’s first attempt at recording a hit was unsuccessful. At the suggestion of DJ Ollie McLaughlin, the duo rewrote and re-recorded one of their earlier songs, heard here, first known as “Little Runaway.” The song features a Musitron, an early example of a synthesizer created entirely by Crook. Upon its release in February 1961, the song was an instant hit. Shannon appearing on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand on April 10 of the same year boosted the song into the national spotlight and brought it straight to number one. It also reached number one in the UK and Australia. Besides being covered by The Traveling Wilburys (in 1990) and Elvis (in 1969), the song was also mentioned in Tom Petty’s famous tune “Runnin’ Down a Dream” in 1989.

album art

Del Shannon - Runaway (1961)

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Lyrics:

As I walk along, I wonder
What went wrong with our love
A love that was so strong

And as I still walk on, I think of
The things we've done together
While our hearts were young

I'm walkin' in the rain
Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain
Wishin' you were here by me
To end this misery

And I wonder
I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder
Why
Why, why, why, why, why
She ran away
And I wonder
Where she will stay
My little runaway
Run, run, run, run, runaway

I'm walkin' in the rain
Tears are fallin' and I feel the pain
Wishin' you were here by me
To end this misery

And I wonder
I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder
Why
Why, why, why, why, why
She ran away
And I wonder
Where she will stay
My little runaway
Run, run, run, run, runaway
Run, run, run, run, runaway
Run, run, run, run, runaway…

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