Del Shannon

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About Del Shannon

Rendering stormy teen melodramas as compact, hummable vignettes, Del Shannon influenced generations of rock romantics from the 1960s onwards. Born Charles Westover in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1934, he adopted his stage name just before debuting with 1961’s chart-topping “Runaway”. That song’s scenery-chewing chorus—complete with askew spike of falsetto—perfectly captured youthful anguish, while the same year’s follow-up “Hats off to Larry” similarly evoked heartache with counterintuitive chirpiness. Shannon later covered classic country tunes and British Invasion hits before attempting Beatles- and Beach Boys-style psychedelic pop ambition, most notably on 1968’s The Further Adventures of Charles Westover. Even when his output slowed, Shannon reliably found fans in younger artists: Tom Petty produced 1981’s Heartbreakers-backed Drop Down and Get Me, and Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne co-produced 1991’s Rock On!, released after Shannon’s death a year prior.

Grand Rapids, MI, United States of America
30 December 1934