From Grand Rapids, Michigan is the singer-songwriter known as Del Shannon. Originally born as Charles Westover in 1934, this is the same Del Shannon who ended his own life in 1990 due to circumstances that still remain an unresolved mystery. Upon his death, Shannon’s widow blames the narcotic known as Prozac for playing a role in his suicide during a time where it appeared his career was showing signs of a comeback.
Before It Ended
Del Shannon fits the classic story of under-appreciated talent during an era where the competition among star wannabes was so great that unless you agreed to fit into the mold laid out by the entertainment industry, you would not receive the recognition you deserves as an original artist who sticks to your own roots. Del Shannon didn’t want to be shaped into another fabricated icon that lacked realism. He wanted to be his own man, even if it meant not standing out above the already overcrowded talent pool of cookie cutouts. In 1958, his music career began after spending time as a carpet salesman. It wasn’t until 1961 his efforts finally paid off and he enjoyed a taste of that stardom until his alcoholism caught up with him during the 1970s. It wouldn’t be until 1978 he’d sober up enough to get back in the music saddle again.
Top 10 Del Shannon Songs
#10 – Sea of Love
It was the first single from Del Shannon since returning to the music scene after his battle against alcoholism. “Sea of Love” was recorded and released with the album “Drop Down and Get Me.” Originally written, recorded, and released by one-hit-wonder Phil Phillips in 1959 was first covered by Marty Wilde, also in 1959, and then by Del Shannon in 1981. Shannon’s version charted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number thirty three, which wasn’t nearly as high as Phillips’s version, which peaked at second.
#9 – Two Kinds of Teardrops
Stemming from Del Shannon’s 1963 album “Little Town Flirt” is the single “Two Kinds of Teardrops,” which was released in 1963. On the UK Singles Chart, it peaks in fifth place. Australia’s Kent Report charts the song at number seventeen and on the US Billboard Hot 100 at number fifty. On an international level, this song charted much better than in Del Shannon’s home country.
# 8 – Handy Man
“Handy Man” has been a cover song for many artists since it was originally co-written by Jimmy Jones and Otis Blackwell in 1959, then first released in 1960. It performed extremely well for Jones as a hit throughout the US Billboard charts with rankings of second with the US Billboard Hot 100 and third with the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. For Del Shannon, when he recorded and released his version of Handy Man, it peaks reaches #22 for him with that same US Billboard Hot 100. It also earned international recognition by placing at #17 with the Australia Kent Report and at number thirty six on the UK Singles Charts.
#7 – Hey! Little Girl!
Recorded and released in 1961, Del Shannon’s single “Hey! Little Girl!” earns itself its highest chart rank in the UK, placing in second with their Singles Chart. With Australia’s Kent Report at #12, and with the US Billboard Hot 100 at #38. What makes this single stand out compared to his previous hits of the same year is its optimism, serving as a polar opposite to what had already been lost.
#6 – So Long, Baby
In 1961, Del Shannon releases “So Long, Baby” and the song once again perform better within the nations outside the US as with the New Zealand Listener chart it scores in eighth place, on the UK Singles Chart in tenth place, and with Australia’s Kent Report at 16th place. With the US Billboard Hot 100, it charted at number twenty eight.
#5 – The Swiss Maid
The yodeling within the single “The Swiss Maid” seems to have contributed towards the song peaking at number one with Australia’s Kent Report in 1962 after Del Shannon recorded it in 1961 with the original title as “Swiss Fair Maiden.” With the New Zealand Listener chart, it peaks at fourth place and with the US Billboard Easy Listening chart at #19, which faired better than #64 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
#4 – Little Town Flirt
The single “Little Town Flirt” was released in 1964, which charted at #12 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song actually did its best with Australia’s Kent Report by peaking at the very top spot while it placed fourth with the UK Singles Chart and seventh with the New Zealand Listener chart.
#3 – Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun)
In 1964, one of three hit singles to realize an American top ten rank is Del Shannon’s “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow the Sun),” which came in the ninth spot with the US Billboard Hot 100. This was also the case in Australia with its Kent Music Report. Meanwhile, in the UK Singles Chart, it peaked in third place.
#2 – Hats Off to Larry
The second of three hit singles to break into the top ten of the US Billboard Top 100 music charts coming from Del Shannon is the song “Hats Off to Larry,” which was peaked in fifth place in 1961. With the Canadian CHUM Hit Parade, it charted to top spot, while in Australia and New Zealand it peaks as high as second in both nations. It once again established music fans outside the US warmed up to him and his music even more so at the time than the locals.
#1 – Runaway
Not only was Del Shannon’s “Runaway” the most successful single from his discographic profile, but it is also what finally put him on the map as a legitimate music star among the airwaves in 1961. Clean across the most respected music charts, namely the US Billboard Hot 100, Canada’s CHUM Hit Parade, the UK Singles Chart, Australia’s Kent Music Report, and the New Zealand Listener, it peaked at the top spot. This global hit made it within the top ten of various music charts around the world and still remains a cult classic today.