Runaway (Del Shannon song)

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Runaway (Del Shannon song).jpg
Single by Del Shannon
from the album Runaway with Del Shannon
B-side "Jody"
Released February 1961 (1961-02)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded January 21, 1961[1]
Studio Bell Sound Studios, New York[2]
Genre Rock and roll[3]
Length 2:20
Label BigTop
Producer(s) Harry Balk
Del Shannon singles chronology
"Hats Off to Larry"
"Hats Off to Larry"
Audio sample

"Runaway" is a number-one Billboard Hot 100 song made famous by Del Shannon in 1961. It was written by Shannon and keyboardist Max Crook, and became a major international hit. It is No. 472 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, compiled in 2010.

Original recording[edit]

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 called a Musitron, became "Maximilian".

After their first recording session for Big Top Records in New York City 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 musicians on the record included Al Casamenti and Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass, and Joe Marshall on drums. Bill Ramall, who was the arranger for the session, also played baritone sax.[4] After recording in A minor, producer Balk sped up the recording to pitch just below a B-flat minor.[5] "Runaway" was released in February 1961 and was immediately successful. On April 10 of that year, Shannon appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand helping to catapult it to the number one spot on the Billboard charts where it remained for four weeks. Two months later, it also reached number one in the UK.[6] On the R&B charts, "Runaway" peaked at number three.[7] The song was #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Year-End Chart in 1961. Appearing on David Letterman in 1986, Shannon reprised his hit backed by Paul Shaffer and the band. He was introduced as having sold as many as 80,000 singles of 'Runaway' per day at its height.

Del Shannon re-recorded it in 1967 as "Runaway '67". This version was issued as a single but failed to make the Hot 100.


The song is sung from the point of view of a man whose female lover has left him. She is mostly referred to in the third person, but she is briefly addressed in the second person in the lyric "wishin' you were here by me".

In popular culture[edit]

  • Directly referenced in the Tom Petty song "Runnin' Down a Dream." Lyric: "It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down, I had the radio on, I was driving. Trees went by, me and Del were singing 'Little Runaway', I was flyin'"[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Laura R. Ashlee (2005). Traveling Through Time: A Guide to Michigan's Historical Markers. University of Michigan Press. p. 60. ISBN 0-472-03066-3. 
  2. ^ Dafydd Rees; Luke Crampton (1999). Rock Stars Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 898. ISBN 978-0-7894-4613-8. 
  3. ^ Mason, Stewart. "Runaway" at AllMusic. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  4. ^ "Young, Bryan, "Classic Tracks: Del Shannon's 'Runaway'", Oct 1, 2008, ''Mix Magazine''". 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  5. ^ Classic Tracks Back To Back: Thunder Bay Press, 2008.
  6. ^ "Full Length Biography". Delshannon.Com. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 521. 
  8. ^ "Tom Petty:Runnin' Down A Dream". Retrieved 2016-10-01. 
  9. ^ "Billboard Music Week Hot 100", Billboard, May 12, 1962. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  10. ^ "Billboard Music Week Hot 100", Billboard, June 23, 1962. p. 14. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  11. ^ 1050 CHUM - CHUM Charts at the Wayback Machine (archived July 15, 2006). Chart No. 264, April 23, 1962. CHUM. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  12. ^ ON (2012-09-02). "Bob Costa's "Later" Show with Del Shannon - part 2 of 2! - Video Dailymotion". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  13. ^ "Dave – Mein Mädchen Monika (Runaway)". Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  14. ^ "Dave – Vanesa Canta En Español". Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 143. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  16. ^ Whitburn, p. 22
  17. ^ Jon O'Brien (2011-11-07). "Dermot O'Leary Presents the Saturday Sessions 2011 - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  18. ^ "John Frusciante Concert Setlist at Paradiso, Amsterdam on February 8, 2001". Retrieved 2013-08-01. 
  19. ^ Mariano Prunes. "Dos Bandas y un Destino: El Concierto - Arizona Baby,Los Coronas | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-08-01. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Blue Moon" by The Marcels
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
April 24, 1961 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Mother-in-law" by Ernie K-Doe