Life is timing.
In 1961 Del Shannon became an overnight sensation when “Runaway” became a smash hit, selling 9 million copies. Other hits followed in quick succession–“Hats off to Larry,” “So Long Baby,” “Hey Little Girl,” “Little Town Flirt.” By 1963, however, the bloom was off the Del Shannon rose. Del did what many past-prime American pop stars of the time did. He toured England where tastes lagged a few months behind the New World orb. He headlined shows that featured, among many others, back-up acts such as The Beatles
Del was quick to recognize the flipping of the cultural switch, seeing the excitement that the young British bands were generating. Del returned stateside and recorded a version of the Beatles’ “From Me to You.” Didn’t work, so he tried again with the Jagger/Richards tune “Under My Thumb.”
“From Me To You” was composed by John and Paul on a train during a tour with Helen Shapiro.
Singer Kenny Lynch invited himself into the songwriting session in the back of the coach. After hearing John and Paul singing “ooh”, he said “you can’t do that! You’ll sound like a bunch of f*#@ing fairies!” and stormed off.
“We nearly didn’t record it because we thought it was too bluesy at first, but when we’d finished it and George Martin had scored it with harmonica, it was alright,” John said.
The song was the Beatles’ first number 1 hit on what became the official UK singles chart but the second, after “Please Please Me”, on most of the other singles charts published in the UK at the time.
The song failed to make an impact in the US at the time of its initial release. Instead, a 1963 cover version released by Del Shannon resulted in the song becoming the first Lennon–McCartney tune to enter the US pop charts.
Meanwhile … here’s what became of Max Crook, Del’s songwriting partner with Runaway:
(Go back and turn off the “Under My Thumb” soundtrack.)
And here’s one of the most lame covers of Runaway that you’ll ever hear: