Del Shannon Goes Pyschedelic

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Today is the birthday of Del Shannon (1934-1990). Since 1961, Shannon has been almost exclusively known for his #1 hit “Runaway”. And if you were only to be known for only one thing, well, that song wouldn’t be a bad thing to be remembered for. Both his vocal performance and that highly memorable solo (played on an original instrument called the “Musitron”) make it stick in the craw — I could play it 20 times in a row and not get tired of it. But I’m not sharing it here today. My job ain’t to tell you what you already know.

The fact is he had several other hit tunes in the early 60s, then…wait for it….he recorded an album in 1967 with the Rolling Stones former producer Andrew Loog Oldham called Home and Away that was promised to be the “British answer to Pet Sounds“. Unfortunately, Liberty Records shelved the project; the tracks were not released until 1978. (I’m dying to hear them!) After this, he did a concept album called The Further Adventures of Charles Westover. It didn’t sell well. Shannon kept plugging in the business for another couple of decades with a couple of minor successes) before taking his own life in 1990.

It’s too bad. He made interesting music. This song, “Gemini” was the single off the Charles Westover LP. It needs a shot of B12 in the ass, I think, especially on the bridge, but it has a great overall sound, typical of its era:

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

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And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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