The Night They Demanded “Runaway”

8 Dec

The other day, I wrote a post about concerts, and it brought to mind a show that has, for the lack of a better word, haunted me. I reckon an explanation is needed.

Many years ago, I took my mom to an Oldies reunion concert that had a lineup filled with people she had grown up listening to. I cannot remember everyone who played, but there is one I will never forget.Del Shannon

Del Shannon came on stage and told everyone how happy he was to be in Nashville. He grew up listening to country music, and Hank Williams was one of his heroes. He opened up with a Hank Williams song, and it was easy to see that it was important for him to sing that song in this city.

Then, he sang another Hank Williams song. Apparently, one was all the crowd was willing to put up with. A few of those close to the stage started yelling, “Runaway! Play Runaway!” For those of you who may not know, “Runaway” was Del Shannon’s big hit. He had a few other songs make the charts, but “Runaway” is what made him famous.

As they yelled, Del was getting frustrated. He said that he would play the song, but he was going to do this first. Some people continued to yell but most sat back and waited. They politely clapped, but it was not the same as the reactions for other performers.

Finally, he played the song, and the crowd went crazy. Then, Del Shannon left the stage.

For the rest of the concert, I wondered what Del Shannon was thinking. What was it like to be famous for one song and have to play it over and over? What was it like to know the crowd only wanted one thing? What was it like to have a hit; be on the cusp of stardom; and not make it further? What was it like to be relegated to playing reunion shows?

A few weeks after that concert, I opened a magazine and read that Del Shannon had committed suicide. I doubt that the show in Nashville had anything to do with it. However, I wonder if the answers to those questions did have something to do with it.

I do not want to speculate on the lives and deaths of people I do not know. However, I still think about that concert and the actions of the crowd. It was the only concert that I regret attending.

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9 Responses to “The Night They Demanded “Runaway””

  1. Marilyn Armstrong December 8, 2014 at 01:53 #

    From what I’ve heard from performers, they are grateful that anyone still remembers them but get frustrated that no one wants to listen to anything else. I’ve heard this from numerous performers over the years, personally and in interviews. Happiest are those who don’t actually WANT to escape and are perfectly happy to revisit the same song over and over.

    • Rick December 8, 2014 at 02:56 #

      I’m sure it gets old for all of them. At least the ones with a bunch of hits can mix it up sometimes.

      • Marilyn Armstrong December 8, 2014 at 03:06 #

        Some of them manage to escape, move on … many don’t and are singing their one or two hits on cruise ships. But the reality is most of us never have ONE hit, so that’s the way it goes, I guess.

  2. frontrangescribbles December 8, 2014 at 03:46 #

    I will have to ask one the next guest on my show that question. It is an interesting question

    • Rick December 8, 2014 at 05:13 #

      It would be an interesting answer.

  3. DyingNote December 8, 2014 at 03:56 #

    Many of us have just so much fuel (if at all we have it) for that one flare. Sadly, it often suffices to consume us.

    • Rick December 8, 2014 at 05:14 #

      It happens too often.

  4. Andrew Petcher December 8, 2014 at 07:27 #

    Sad story. Better to be remembered for just one good thing than for nothing at all? Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, Anna Sewell. Norman Greenbaum. It could be a very long list!

    • Rick December 8, 2014 at 14:35 #

      Indeed, it is a very long list. However, Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell didn’t have to write their book over and over again.

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