With its descending chord progression (A-minor, G, F, E), reverb guitar and musitron (the high pitched electronic keyboard) solo, not to mention Del Shannon's falsetto (which was effective rather than grating), "Runaway" was a classic lost-love Rocker. Shannon had several hits including "Hats Off To Larry," another lost-love song, and "Little Town Flirt." He toured England in '63 and wound up on the bill at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Beatles and asked to record one of their songs. He settled on "From Me To You." While it didn't do much, it was the first Lennon/McCartney composition to chart in the U.S. While Shannon's U.S. popularity faded, he remained strong in the U.K. through the mid-60's. After that there were several unrealized projects. Shannon also had bouts with alcoholism. He kept performing and even made a "comeback" album with help from fans Tom Petty (who referenced Shannon and "Runaway" in his song "Running Down A Dream") and ELO's Jeff Lynne. Following Roy Orbison' death, Shannon was suggested as a replacement in the Traveling Wilbury' s. But Shannon, taking the prescription drug Prozac, was battling personal demons. He finally gave up and took his own life in February of '90.
"Runaway" with Shannon's raw passionate vocals is his biggest hit. But "Little Town Flirt" and "Hats Off To Larry" are "serious" Rock 'n' Roll. The Rhino "Greatest Hits" collection nails Shannon's career with excellent selections beyond the obvious hits. It also includes his cover of The Beatles' "From Me To You." In the early '90s, he got some career help from Tom Petty and others. The album "Rock On" is good but (and you could say this of nearly everyone) his earlier work is vastly superior.