Del Shannon - Runaway - 1961


Del Shannon's "Runaway" is a classic hit from 1961, known for its unique sound and memorable melody. In this section, we'll dive into the history, impact, and musical composition of "Runaway," offering an engaging and educational experience for music enthusiasts and students alike.

Background of "Runaway"

"Runaway" was released in 1961 by Del Shannon and quickly became a massive hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is notable for its use of the Musitron, an early form of the synthesizer, which contributed to its distinctive sound. Del Shannon, born Charles Weedon Westover, was an American rock and roll and country musician, known for his falsetto singing style and innovative use of technology in music.

Musical Composition

The song is set in the key of A minor and is known for its catchy chorus and the Musitron solo. The Musitron, played by keyboardist Max Crook, who co-wrote the song with Shannon, added a unique element that set the song apart from other contemporary rock and roll hits.

Impact and Legacy

"Runaway" has been covered by numerous artists and remains a staple in the canon of early rock and roll music. Its influence extends beyond music, as it has been featured in movies, TV shows, and commercials, cementing its place in pop culture.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What year was "Runaway" released? (1961) (!1959) (!1963) (!1960)

Which unique instrument was used in "Runaway"? (Musitron) (!Theremin) (!Moog Synthesizer) (!Electric Guitar)

What chart position did "Runaway" reach on the Billboard Hot 100? (Number one) (!Top ten) (!Number five) (!Number three)

Who co-wrote "Runaway" with Del Shannon? (Max Crook) (!Roy Orbison) (!Buddy Holly) (!Chuck Berry)

In which key is "Runaway" primarily set? (A minor) (!C major) (!G major) (!E minor)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What was Del Shannon's real name? (Charles Weedon Westover) (!Charles Edward Anderson) (!Walter Shannon Briggs) (!James Douglas Morrison)

In addition to rock and roll, which other genre did Del Shannon contribute to? (Country music) (!Jazz) (!Blues) (!Funk)

Which of these songs is also a hit by Del Shannon? ("Hats Off to Larry") (!"Peggy Sue") (!"Heartbreak Hotel") (!"Johnny B. Goode")

Del Shannon was known for his distinct singing style, which included... (Falsetto) (!Growling) (!Yodeling) (!Whispering)

In which decade did Del Shannon become particularly famous? (1960s) (!1950s) (!1970s) (!1980s)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What is the opening line of "Runaway"? ("As I walk along, I wonder") (!"Running through this empty town") (!"I'm walking down the line") (!"Lost in a dream, I roam")

The lyrics of "Runaway" primarily express feelings of... (Heartbreak and longing) (!Joy and excitement) (!Anger and frustration) (!Nostalgia and reflection)

In "Runaway," the singer is troubled by... (Memories of a lost love) (!Uncertainty about the future) (!Conflict with a friend) (!A journey he must undertake)

The chorus of "Runaway" starts with the words... ("I'm a-walkin' in the rain") (!"Running far away from here") (!"Tears are falling and I feel the pain") (!"Wishing you were here by me")

The Musitron solo in "Runaway" can be best described as... (Futuristic and distinctive) (!Smooth and calming) (!Upbeat and rhythmic) (!Melancholic and slow)


Del Shannon Charles Weedon Westover
1961 Hit Song Runaway
Unique Instrument Musitron
Song Key A minor
Co-writer of "Runaway" Max Crook

Open Tasks


  1. Create a Playlist: Compile a playlist of early 1960s rock and roll hits, including "Runaway."
  2. Write a Review: Write a short review of "Runaway," focusing on its musical style and impact.
  3. Draw a Poster: Design a concert poster for Del Shannon's performance in 1961.


  1. Explore the Musitron: Research the Musitron and create a presentation on its role in music history.
  2. Analyze the Lyrics: Analyze the lyrics of "Runaway," discussing the themes of heartbreak and longing.
  3. Compare Covers: Listen to different cover versions of "Runaway" and compare them in terms of style and interpretation.


  1. Compose a Song: Compose a song inspired by "Runaway," incorporating elements from early 1960s rock and roll.
  2. Research Del Shannon's Career: Write a detailed report on Del Shannon's career and contributions to music.
  3. Musical Era Presentation: Create a presentation on the musical era of the early 1960s, highlighting key artists and trends.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the Impact: Discuss the impact of "Runaway" on the development of rock and roll music.
  2. Innovations in Music: Talk about the role of technological innovations, like the Musitron, in shaping music history.
  3. Musical Influences: Explain how Del Shannon's style was influenced by earlier musicians and how he influenced others.
  4. Analyze Cultural Impact: Analyze the cultural impact of "Runaway" beyond the music industry, such as in films and TV shows.
  5. Compare and Contrast: Compare "Runaway" with another hit song from the 1960s, focusing on musical style, lyrics, and cultural significance.

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