1961 – No. 1 Chart Toppers Pop Hit: “Runaway,” D…


1961 – No. 1 Chart Toppers Pop Hit: “Runaway,” Del Shannon. Shannon is the first artist to take a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney onto the U.S. pop charts. His version of “From Me to You” hits the Hot 100 on June 29, 1963, before the release of the Beatles debut American single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”


As I walk along I wonder
What went wrong with our love
A love that was so strong
And as I still walk on I think of
The things we’ve done together
While our hearts were young

I’m a-walking in the rain
Tears are falling and I feel the pain
Wishing you were here by me
To end this misery and I wonder
I wah, wah, wah, wah wonder
Why, why, why, why, why she ran away
And I wonder when she will stay
My little runaway a-run, run, run, run, a-runaway

I’m a-walking in the rain
Tears are falling and I feel the pain
Wishing you were here by me
To end this misery and I wonder
I wah, wah, wah, wah wonder
Why, why, why, why, why she ran away
And I wonder when she will stay
My little runaway, a-run, run, run, run, a-runaway
Run run run run runaway
Run run run run runaway

“Runaway” was a number one Billboard Hot 100 song in the spring of 1961 by Del Shannon. It was written by Shannon and keyboardist Max Crook, and became a major international hit.

It is #466 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Original recording

Singer-guitarist Charles Westover and keyboard player Max Crook performed together as members of “Charlie Johnson and the Big Little Show Band” in Battle Creek, Michigan, before their group won a recording contract in 1960. Westover took the new stage name “Del Shannon”, and Crook, who had invented his own clavioline-based electric keyboard, the Musitron, became “Maximilian”.

After their first recording session for Big Top Records in New York had ended in failure, their manager Ollie McLaughlin persuaded them to rewrite and re-record an earlier song they had written, “Little Runaway”, to highlight Crook’s unique instrumental sound. On January 21, 1961, they recorded “Runaway” at the Bell Sound recording studios, with Harry Balk as producer,Fred Weinberg as audio engineer and also session musician on several sections- session musician Al Caiola on guitar, and Crook playing the central Musitron break.

Other versions

The following year champagne music maker Lawrence Welk who hosted a music tv series released and had a hit with the song. In 1961 Japanese singer ???? (IIDA Hisahiko) made a cover of the song, called in Japanese ????? (“Kanashiki Machikado”) and was included album Sweet Forgiveness and later on her 1990 greatest hits album.

Country versions of the song have been recorded by Narvel Felts in the 70s, the bluegrass-based group The Cox Family in 1996, the latter produced by Alison Krauss, and by Gary Allan on his album Smoke Rings in the Dark. “Runaway” was covered by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band on The Penthouse Tapes album. Marty Friedman and Rolly covered “Runaway” on Rock Fujiyama. The song was covered in French by Dutch singer Dave; the cover was called “Vanina”. The song was later covered by the punk rock group Me First and the Gimme Gimmes on their Blow in the Wind, as well as horrorpunk band The Misfits on their covers album Project 1950. 1986 brought a rock cover by Luis Cardenas.

It was also recorded by the Traveling Wilburys during sessions for their second album, released as Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 in 1990. The Wilburys had all been involved in sessions or production for Shannon’s last album, released posthumously as Rock On, and had it not been for his tragic death in 1990, there was some speculation that he would have played and sung on their album as well, perhaps as a replacement for Roy Orbison, a former Wilbury who had died in 1988. However, this has never been documented.

In 1988, influential Chicago punk band, Screeching Weasel, covered the song on their Boogadaboogadaboogada! album. Blood For Blood cover “Runaway” on their album Serenity. Samhain drummer Steve Zing, with some members of the band Mourning Noise, recorded a cover of “Runaway” that was released as a single in 1986.

John Frusciante, guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is known to do a live version of “Runaway” at his solo concerts.

“Runaway” briefly returned in 1986 when Shannon recorded a revised version for the theme song of the television show Crime Story. Coincidentally, one episode of the show’s second season featured Bonnie Raitt’s cover of the song.

The Disco/Soul band Eruption covered this song in 1981 with new lead singer Jane Jochen

Brazilian band Ultraje a Rigor covered the song on their album Por quê Ultraje a Rigor?.

Queen + Paul Rodgers covered the song as an iTunes-only bonus track on their 2008 album, The Cosmos Rocks.

Cajun Dance Party have covered the song as a b-side to their new single “The Colouful Life” in 2008.

Movie appearances

The song “Runaway” has appeared in the following movies and TV shows:

* American Graffiti (1973) (Del Shannon recording)
* Yotzim Kavua (1979)
* Running Scared (1980)
* Christine (1983)
* Purple Haze (1983)
* Eddie and the Cruisers (1983)
* Children of the Corn (1984)
* Crime Story (1986)
* Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993)
* The Wild Reeds (Les Roseaux Sauvages) (French film, 1994)
* Heroes (2009)

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