Thursday, September 6, 2012


Hall of Famer Del Shannon appeared in and around CNY a number of times during his long career. We are going to touch on just some of the more important shows. But first a little history..
"Runaway" was released by Bigtop Records #3067 first hit the WOLF & WNDR Radio charts in Syracuse on March 25 and remained their till July 8, 1961 reaching the coveted #1 spot three weeks. Knocking off Ricky Nelson's smash hit "Travelin Man". Del's follow up release "Hats Off To Larry" (Bigtop #3075) first charted on June 10 while Runaway still enjoyed over a month more Top 40 airplay.
"Hats of To Larry" enjoyed two weeks at the #1 spot and remained on both Syracuse stations music charts through September 1, 1961. It was followed closely by "So Long Baby"(Sept 2- Nov 17) peaking at #8.

His string of Bigtop Label hits continued "Hey Little Girl" (Nov 6- Dec 31, 1961), Ginny In The Mirror" ( Mar 4- Apr. 7, 1962), "Two Kind of Teardrops" (Apr 13- May 18, 1962),  "Cry Myself To Sleep" (Aug 1962), Swiss Maid" (Sept 9- Oct 6, 1962) "Little Town Flirt" (Dec 29, 1962- Feb 9, 1963) and a double sided hit in the UK "From Me To You" (Beatles) b/w "Two Silhouettes" (June 8-15, 1965).  Berlee Record label then released "Sue's Gonna Be Mine" (Nov 7-21, 1965). A change to the AMY record label yielded more hits "Handy Man" (May 29 -Aug 14, 1964), " Do You Want To Dance" (Sept  18- Oct 21, 1964)," Keep on Searchin" (Nov 12, 1964- Jan 1, 1965) and "Stranger in Town" (Feb 22-March 25, 1965) all smash hits here in Central New York.

Between 1961-65 only two Del Shannon records failed to make the Syracuse Top 40 listings "Mary Jane" (Feb 2-13, 1964, a WNDR "Pick to Click" selection ) & "Break Up" (Amy Label in 1965).

Later in Del's career he released the following singles "Big Hurt" for Liberty Records (1966), "Tell Her Know" for Island Records (1975), "Sea of Love" Network Record (1981) all with little commercial success.

Del Shannon one of Rock & Roll greats was first seen in Central New York playing a Easter Week (April 24, 1962) concert for WOLF Radio's Bob Dell & Andy Andrews at Sports O' Rama  in Mattydale, NY. He headlined the show and shared the stage with Brian Hyland & Jean Thomas (Moon River) along with Syracuse bands 'Paul & The Velvets' (Paul Levandowski, Mickey Palumbo), 'The Eternals' (Tom Rozzano, Mickey Nicotra), "Keystones" (Hal Robinson),  'Little Linda' & "The Capitols" (Chuck Sgroi). Two years later Del Shannon returned to play at Syracuse University with the national recording artist "The Tymes" ( So Much in Love) and our own Otis (Smith) and The Headliners on December 11, 1964.

His next Syracuse appearance would be a classic. April 24, 1973, Del Shannon played LeMoyne College (with the Alligators) and stayed the night in Syracuse at the Dewitt Ranch Motel on Erie Blvd.. My good friend Don Bombard (now Bob Shannon of New York's WCBS FM) and I then took a chance and went there hoping to interview this rock legend. To our surprise we were given his room number and knocked on his door. Wow that's security for you in 1973....

To our surprise Del Shannon open the door. We introduced ourselves from WOLF Radio and he invited us in. After talking about his concert the night before, his many hits and his association with the great Max Crook, Del told us he had just received a master cassette from his soon to be released album "Live In England" and invited us to stay and listen to the complete album. An offer we just couldn't refuse..

Don & I sat on the floor and listened with Del Shannon to his great new album that was soon to be release once a label deal was completed. Tracks were recorded live on Dec 2 1972 at the Princess Club in Manchester, England. It started with "Hats Off To Larry" and ended with "Runaway". In between Handy Man, Swiss Maid, Hey Little Girl, Little Town Flirt, Kelly, Two King of Teardrops Coopersville Yodel, The Answer to Everything, Keep Searchin, What's The Matter Baby, So Long Baby and a great version of the Roy Orbison song Crying. We each had our photo taken with Del and thanked him for his kindness. Amazing we heard this classic live album  months before it hit record store shelves.

 Del Shannon also played at Onondaga Community College (1973) and again in Syracuse on September 23, 1978 at the War Memorial a benefit for the Syracuse Police (PBA). Performing with Del that evening were Bobby Rydell, The Regents (Barbara Ann), Belmonts, Freddie Cannon and the Marvelettes.

After a June 14, 1983 Landmark Theater concert with Bo Diddley & Little Anthony was canceled due to Diddley's illness, next came Richard Nader Rock & Roll Revival Show on August 28, 1983 at the New York State Fair. Shannon shared the stage with The Marvelettes and the great Bobby Comstock and his Band.

His last few CNY appearances were at local clubs, May 1, 1985 at Gordies Double Play in Phoenix, NY once again with The Alligators and July 20-21, 1989 at Trader Macks with The Shirelles.
Del Shannon (born Charles Westover in 1934)  who began his music career in Battle Creek, Michigan and rose to the top of the Rock & Roll world died in Los Angeles on February 8, 1990. At New York's Waldorf-Astoria on  March 15, 1999 Del Shannon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,

Many of you might have caught Del Shannon at he toured the country on a number of big package tours as "Biggest Show of Stars-1961" (Drifters, Gary "U.S" Bonds, Gene McDaniels, Platters) and Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars both in 1964 (Summer Edition w/ Lou Christie, Gene Pitney, Supremes) & 1965 (with Zombies, Tommy Roe, Tina Turner,  Major Lance, Shangri-las and others).

Don & I both cherish our moments and great memories with this rock icon..known as Del Shannon

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