Album: Runaway With... (1961)
Charted: 1 1


  • This is about a guy whose girl leaves him, and he is left to wonder what went wrong. A lot of Shannon's songs were about broken relationships. He once said he wrote the words to this about himself because he was forever running away from relationships.
  • Shannon and his keyboard player, Max Crook, came up with this while they were playing a club in their hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. Crook played a keyboard called a "Musitron" on the song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jeff - Boston, MA
  • Del Shannon (from 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh): "We were on stage and Max (Crook) hit an A minor and a G and I said, 'Max, play that again, it's a great change.'" The drummer, Dick Parker, followed them and after 15 minutes, the manager of the club shouted, 'Knock it off, play something else.'" The next day Shannon wrote some lyrics: "That night I went back to the club and I told Max to play an instrumental on his musitron for the middle part, and when he played that solo, we had 'Runaway.'"
  • In the UK, this was the biggest-selling single of 1961.
  • Shannon re-recorded this for the Michael Mann TV series Crime Story, which ran from 1986-1988.
  • This was Shannon's biggest hit. His career trailed off a few years later, and he killed himself in 1990.
  • Tom Petty makes reference to this in "Runnin' Down A Dream." The line is, "It was a beautiful day, me and Del were singing, a little runaway."
  • This was used in the movie American Graffiti, a film that used many 1950s and '60s American pop, rock and doo-wop songs to create a jukebox-style soundtrack. As the film is set in 1962 ("Where Were You in '62?" was the tagline), Shannon's "Runaway" is an appropriate period song.
  • The B-side for the first run of the "Runaway" single was a song titled "Jody." Shannon stated that "Jody," not "Runaway," was his favorite song he ever recorded.
  • The famous musitron bridge was used pretty much note for note in the instrumental bridge to the 1982 song "Goodbye To You" by Scandal (with lead singer Patty Smyth). >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Caren - Detroit area, MI
  • The song has been covered many times. Queen and Paul Rodgers produced a version during The Cosmos Rocks sessions, with Brian May playing the musitron bridge solo section on guitar in his distinctive style. The song was an iTunes exclusive bonus track when the album was released in 2008.
  • The rock group Avenged Sevenfold covered this in 2017 as a virtual bonus track for their album The Stage. Their version features A7X guitarist Zacky Vengeance on lead vocals for the first time while the Vandals' axeman Warren Fitzgerald guests.

    "When we decided to expand the album and add new tracks, everyone in the band chose a song that would be interesting to cover," said Avenged Sevenfold vocalist M. Shadows. "Zacky came up with the idea of doing a punk rock version of the Del Shannon classic. While in the studio, (AS guitarist) Synyster brought up our old friend Warren Fitzgerald, saying it'd be great to have him play on the track and give the song the kind of reckless abandon he's known for with the Vandals."

    "I've always loved 'Runaway' and the dark undertone hidden behind the upbeat doo-wop track," said Vengeance of his choice to cover the song. "You can hear sincere anguish in his voice. I raised my hand to add a little punk rock flair to the vocals, have some fun, and give the fans a little something to talk about."
  • The 11th episode of the third season of Quantum Leap (1991) is titled Runaway and featured this song. In the story, main character Dr. Sam Beckett "quantum leaps" into the body of a 13-year-old boy named Butchie Rickett. It's July 4, 1964, and his mission (along with his holographic pal Al) is to keep Buchie's mother from abandoning the family.

    Most of the story takes place during a family road trip, and "Runaway" comes on the car radio just as Butchie's mother runs off from a highway pullout and into the woods. Butchie's dad quips that mom always runs away from her problems, making her the clear "runaway" of the show.

    The episode deals a lot with feminism as Butchie's mother is reading The Feminine Mystique, which was a landmark feminist text published in late 1963. Butchie ends up succeeding; the family stays together, with mom nearly dying but then getting her PhD and becoming the family breadwinner.

Comments: 41

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NySixty years ago today in 1961 {April 24th} "Runaway" by Del Shannon peaked at #1 {for 4 weeks} on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    "Runaway" also reached #1 in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom...
    Between 1961 and 1981 the Grand Rapids, Michigan native had seventeen records on the Top 100 chart, three made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, the above "Runaway"...
    Besides "Runaway", his other two Top 10 records were "Hats Off To Larry" {reached #5 for two weeks in July of 1961} and "Keep Searchin' (We'll Follow The Sun" {peaked at #9 for one week in January of 1965...
    He had one Top 20 record, "Little Town Flirt", it reached #12 for one week in February of 1963...
    Sadly, Del Shannon, born Charles Weedon Westover, passed away at the young age of 55 on February 8th, 1990...
    May he R.I.P.
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of Billboard's Top 10 on April 24th, 1961:
    At #2. "Blue Moon" by The Marcels {the #1 record for the previous three weeks}
    #3. "Mother-In-Law" by Ernie K-Doe
    #4. "But I Do" by Clarence 'Frogman' Henry
    #5. "On The Rebound" by Floyd Cramer
    #6. "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" by Gene McDaniels
    #7. "I’ve Told Every Little Star" by Linda Scott
    #8. "You Can Depend On Me" by Brenda Lee
    #9. "Take Good Care of Her" by Adam Wade
    #10. "One Mint Julep" by Ray Charles
  • Bob Ledger from Harrogatewho was the original larry
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 8, 1975, the Rhodes Kids performed their covered version of "Runaway" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program 'American Bandstand'...
    The month before G.R.C. Records released the song, and on February 16th, 1975 it peak at #108 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Top 100 chart...
    Exactly fourteen years earlier on March 8th, 1961 Del Shannon's original version was in it's first week on the Top 100 at position #77, seven weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 4 weeks}...
    Unlike the Rhodes Kids' version, four other covered versions of "Runaway" have made the Top 100 chart, Lawrence Welk's instrumental version {#56 in 1962}, Charlie Kulis {#46 in 1975}, Bonnie Raitt {#57 in 1977}, and Dawn, in a medley with "Happy Together", {#79 in 1972}.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaMax Crooks solo just makes the song.
  • Uncle T. Jay from Grand Junction, CoDel also recorded a new version of "Runaway" in 1967 and dubbed it "Runaway '67". It was a much more slower version of the 1961 smash hit and sounded a bit darker than it's predecessor. Sadly, "Runaway '67" never charted, at least on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart, but it's a great version to look up on the internet and to listen to.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 29th 1972, Tony Orlando and Dawn performed "Runaway/Happy Together" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was in its first week on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #99; fifteen days later on February 13th it peaked at #79 and that was its fourth and final week on the Top 100...
    And on the same 'Bandstand' show the trio also performed "What Are You Doing Sunday"; it had peaked at #39 {for 1 week} on the Top 100 on November 7th, 1971.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 15th 1977 Bonnie Raitt's debut chart record, "Runaway", entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eventually it peaked at #57...
    Three other covered versions have made the Top 100; Lawrence Welk (#56 in 1962, an instrumental), Dawn* (#79 in 1972), and Charlie Kulls (#46 in 1975)...
    * Dawn's version was a medley combined with the Turtles' "Happy Together".
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 10th 1961, Del Shannon performed "Runaway" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    One month earlier on March 6th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #77; and on April 24th it peaked at #1 (for 4 weeks) and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 9 of those 17 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    Between 1961 and 1982 he had seventeen Top 100 records; with three making the Top 10...
    R.I.P. Mr. Shannon, born Charles Weedon Westover, (1934 - 1990).
  • J from Galt, CaTo - John, Mansfield, TX,

    John, actually it is "Watching all the PLAYS go by, Some live and others die" not PLANES. According to this article:

    The lyric and the revised 1986 version for Crime Story was changed to the perspective of two detectives instead of two lovers. If you listen to the new lyrics you can hear the reference to being a jaded cop who looks back to a time when he started and believed good and bad was a black and white issue and now the lines have become blurred as he believes he may have done some bad things himself to "keep the peace." That's also why the opening lyrics are different like "What went wrong with our lives" instead of "love."
  • Martin from Fresno, CaHe was a talented man.He also produced Brian Hylands version of "Gypsy Woman' which was one instance of a cover version being far better than the original.
  • Edward from Charlotte, NcCharlie Kulis covered the song in 1975. It was released on Playboy Records in the U.S.
  • Terry from Va.beach, Vato joe, perth, Australia crime story version is on ......1961-1990: A Complete Career Anthology (disc 2)
  • Pierre from Chelsea, Quebec, CanadaCovered in a nice way, twice, by DION DIMUCCI, on two albums.
  • Rick from Belfast, MeThis song "made" the movie American Grafitti
  • Jon from Scotland, United KingdomI've always liked Del's original version, but the updated take he recorded for the 1986 US TV show "Crime Story" was better IMO (two versions were recorded for Crime Story: the full length version that was edited and used as the show's theme and one with a longer outro that wasn't released). Matching the content of "Crime Story", the 1986 re-recording of Runaway was much grittier with a harder, rockier sound. Bonnie Raitt's version that also appeared in "Crime Story" was good too, and if you like it, you need to check out her live version of "Runaway" that she recorded with Billy Joel. Bonnie sings her version while Billy Joel takes over with his faster and more true to the original sixties sound interpretation. I wasn't too keen on the Elvis cover and the one recorded by Me First And The Gimme Gimme's was just plain bad. But the best cover version of "Runaway" is undoubtedly the one recorded by the Travelling Wilburys although Dion Dimucci's take wasn't bad either.
  • Colin from Southport, United KingdomFor Barry in Sanquoit, according to Del's official website there were small quantities erroneously pressed with 'The Snake' as the b-side. When you get to the home page, click on Discographies, then on 'Compilers notes and additions' for the details. I reckon it must have been the very early copies as The US, UK, and belgium. The Snake is actually an instrumental by The Musitron player on the record Max Crook. It was issued as an B side of the single 'The Wanderer' (written by Max and not the Dion hit) credited as Maximillan on Big Top 45-3568.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyI remember seeing two 45 RPM copies of 'Runaway' in 1961; on one disk the B-Side was 'Jody' and there was a different song on the other copy. Does anybody know what that song was????
  • Eric from Camas, WaThe verses of Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" bear a resemblance to the verses of "Runaway" (IMHO).
  • Justin from Woodstock, NyThe Wisconsin band BoDeans pay homage to Runaway, singing the first verse in the intro to their song "She's A Runaway" on their live album, "Homebrewed, Live From The Pabst," released in 2005.
  • Pierre from Chelsea, Quebec, CanadaElvis Presley recorded a nice version of the song while Shannon was in the room. He asked Del to stand up so people could applaud.
    Good, but not as good as the original.
  • John from Mansfield, TxJoe,While I don't know if there ever was a Soundtrack CD to"Crime Story";Seasons 1&2 of"Crime story"is available on DVD from Anchor Bay home Video.
  • Joe from Perth, Australiai can't find the crime story version on cd anywhere does anyone know where to get it?
  • John from Mansfield, TxSteve,The Revised Version For"Crime story"goes
    "I'm A Walkin'
    In the Rain.
    Tears Are fallin'
    And I feel The Pain.

    Watchin'All The
    Planes Go By,
    Some Live and
    Others Die,
    And I Wonder.
    I WhyWhyWhy
    WhyWhyWhy I
    Don't Walk away.

    And I Wonder,
    What Makes
    Me Stay,Runaway.

  • Pierre from Chelsea, Quebec, CanadaMy number two song ever : just behind STAND BY ME by Ben E. King. The original is still the better ! aAmd the version for CRIME STORY is not bad.
  • Leah from Brooklyn, NyDel Shannon performing Runaway:
  • Darrell from EugeneI've been run over by a runaway, that is, a runaway 1969 Dodge Travco 270 motorhome with no brakes!
  • Caren from Detroit Area, MiThere is no Traveling Wilburys volume 4. What that is is a bootleg. The only actual full length Wilburys albums were Volume 1 and Volume 3 (Roy Orbison's Mystery Girl was considered to be Number 2, altho it's sometimes reported incorrectly to be Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever). Runaway appeared on the Wlburys' 1990 single CD "She's My Baby" as a bonus track in the UK. Otherwise, it is unreleased and only appears on bootleg imports.
  • Dan from Kingston, CanadaHorace- the song you are referring to is called "Shannon" by Henry Gross from around 1974-75
  • Tony from Devon, EnglandThe first 8,000 copies of this released in the UK had the wrong B-side. It featured Max Crook's intrumental 'The Snake' instead of the proper B-side. I had one of them.
  • Jeff from San Jose, CaCovered by the Small Faces around '66, although lead singer Steve Marriott later said he hated the song and that the band only did it to appease their manager, who added a mock-operatic intro to their version. It was released on the Decca CD From The Beginning.
  • Jameson from Lexington, KyJorge: I agree that the original track is awesome (I'm a keyboardist and I love the sound of the Musitron here), but having finally tracked down a copy of the full "Crime Story" version, I think I like it more. I think it's the updated drum arrangement that makes this one. The darker lyrics help too, IMHO.
  • Jorge from Mexicali, MexicoFirst heard the song on "Crime Story", but once I tracked down the original I found it to be much better.
  • Shane from Monticello, IlCovered by Gary Allan for the short-lived series "18 Wheels of Justice".
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesThe first Beatles song to enter the Billboard Top 100 charts was Del Shannon's version of "From Me To You" in June 1963.
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesThere are three different recordings of "Runaway" by Del Shannon: 1) The 1961 monophonic 45 RPM on Big Top 3067; 2) An alternate stereo version in the 1961 Big Top LP "Runaway with Del Shannon", and 3) the slower "Runaway '67" on Liberty 55993.
  • Tabs from Spring, TxBarenaked Ladies also referenced this in their song "What Do You Dream About," where the singer asks his newborn baby son, "Do you hear Del Shannon's 'Runaway' playing on transister radio waves..."
  • Keith from Slc, UtThe "Crime Story" theme has different words (". . .watchin' all the folks go by, some live and others die . . ."), ending with the question of why the singer doesn't run away.

    This was just one of a number of hits for Shannon, who was working on a new album and concert tour when he killed himself. His wife laid the blame on the fact that he was taking Prozac, the anti-depressant which has been associated with a number of suicidal and violent incidents.

  • Rizwan from Highland Park, NjCovered live by Elvis too, with Del Shannon in the audience. Just a good as the original.
  • Horace from Western, MdI thought this was actually about a pet dog Del Shannon had that ran away?
  • Roddy from Southampton, EnglandA version of this is included in the traveling Wilburys' volume 4, I think it's Del that actually sings on it, but don't quote me on that.
  • Reuben from Virginia Beach, VaCovered by Bonnie Raitt, but nowhere near as good as the original. Who played keyboards on the original?
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