Personalities | Del Shannon | Sixties | Rock
(Guitar, vocals, 1939–91)
Stating his intent with 1961’s million-selling – and self-penned – ‘Runaway’, this square-jawed hunk from Michigan continued an exploration of small town soul-torture with the likes of ‘Hats Off To Larry’, ‘Little Town Flirt’ and ‘Stranger In Town’. Other chartbusters included ‘The Swiss Maid’, ‘From Me To You’ – the first Beatles composition to penetrate the US Hot 100 – a revival of Jimmy Jones’s ‘Handy Man’ and 1964’s ‘Keep Searchin’’, characterized, like some of its predecessors, by swoops into falsetto and a memorable organ interlude. He also reached the national Top 10 by proxy when Peter and Gordon recorded his composition ‘I Go To Pieces’. When the hits petered out, he remained a respected figure in the industry, producing Top 10 entries for Smith (‘Baby It’s You’) and Brian Hyland (‘Gypsy Woman’), and remaining a rivetting stage performer. He even managed a one-off return to the charts with ‘Sea Of Love’ nine years before his apparent suicide in 1991.
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