Del Shannon

Best remembered for his enduring rock & roll hit "Runaway," which topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart in 1961, Del Shannon was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on December 30, 1934. Originally named "Charles Weedon Westover," he launched his musical career in the mid-1950s and rechristened himself "Del Shannon" after signing with Bigtop Records in 1960. "Runaway" was released one year later and became one of the biggest hits of the 1960s, appearing on Del Shannon's debut album, Runaway with Del Shannon, in July 1961. His follow-up single, "Hats Off to Larry," was another international success story that same year, peaking at Number 5 in America, Number 6 in the UK, and Number 2 in Australia. Although subsequent releases like "So Long, Baby" and "Hey! Little Girl" all cracked the American Top 40, Del Shannon fared far better in the UK market, where "Hey! Little Girl" charted at Number 2 in 1961, "The Swiss Maid" reached Number 2 in 1962, "Two Kinds of Teardrops" hit Number 5 in 1963, and "Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow the Sun)" peaked at Number 3 in 1964. After a lengthy absence from the charts, he returned to the public eye with a comeback album, 1981's Drop Down and Get Me, which was produced by Tom Petty. Five years later, Juice Newton scored a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot Country chart with her cover of Del Shannon's "Cheap Love." Even so, Del Shannon struggled with depression and eventually took his own life on February 8, 1990, passing away at his residence in Santa Clarita, California, at the age of 55.

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