Rock n Roll
Del Shannon wrote and recorded “Runaway” with keyboardist Max Crook. It’s a song about a broken relationship, as the singer wonders why she ran away from him. “Runaway” became a number one hit and a timeless rock and roll classic, going to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. The interesting keyboard instrument used is Crook’s invention, which was called the Musitron, an early version of the synthesizer. The song was featured in the 1973 film American Graffiti. There have been many covers of the song, including those by Elvis Presley and Bonnie Raitt). “Runaway” is on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Del Shannon was born Charles Weedon Westover in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1934. As a child he played the ukulele and guitar, with an interest in country and western music. While in the U.S. Army (he was drafted in 1954), he played guitar in a band called The Cool Flames. In 1959, when signing with Big Top records, he changed his name to Del Shannon. Del Shannon had success as well with “Hats Off to Larry” and “Little Town Flirt” in 1961 and 1962, respectively. His end is one of the sad stories of the entertainment business, in that he suffered from depression, and at the age of 55, he committed suicide at his home in California.