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One of the best and most original rockers of the early '60s, Del Shannon was also one of the least typical. Although classified at times as a teen idol, he favored brooding themes of abandonment, loss, and rejection. In some respects he looked forward to the British Invasion with his frequent use of minor chords and his ability to write most of his own material. In fact, Shannon was able to keep going strong for a year or two into the British Invasion, and never stopped trying to play original music, though his commercial prospects pretty much died after the mid-'60s.

Born Charles Westover, Shannon happened upon a gripping series of minor chords while playing with his band in Battle Creek, MI. The chords would form the basis for his 1961 debut single, "Runaway," one of the greatest hits of the early '60s, with its unforgettable riffs, Shannon's amazing vocal range (which often glided off into a powerful falsetto), and the creepy, futuristic organ solo in the middle. It made number one, and the similar follow-up, "Hats Off to Larry," also made the Top Ten.

Shannon had intermittent minor hits over the next couple of years ("Little Town Flirt" was the biggest), but was even more successful in England, where he was huge. On one of his European tours in 1963, he played some shows with the Beatles, who had just scored their first big British hits. Shannon, impressed by what he heard, would become the first American artist to cover a Beatles song when he recorded "From Me to You" for a 1963 single (although it would give him only a very small hit). Shannon's melodic style had some similarities with the burgeoning pop/rock wing of the British Invasion, and in 1965, Peter & Gordon would cover a Shannon composition, "I Go to Pieces," for a Top Ten hit.

Del got into the Top Ten with a late-1964 single, "Keep Searchin'," that was one of his best and hardest-rocking outings. But after the similar "Stranger in Town" (number 30, 1965), he wouldn't enter the Top 40 again for nearly a couple of decades. A switch to a bigger label (Liberty) didn't bring the expected commercial results, although he was continuing to release quality singles. Part of the problem was that some of these were a bit too eager to recycle some of his stock minor-keyed riffs, as good as his prototype was. A brief association with producer Andrew Loog Oldham (also manager/producer of the Rolling Stones) found him continuing to evolve, developing a more Baroque, orchestrated pop/rock sound, and employing British session musicians such as Nicky Hopkins. Much to Shannon's frustration, Liberty decided not to release the album that resulted from the collaboration (some of the material appeared on singles, and much of the rest of the sessions would eventually be issued for the collector market).

By the late '60s, Shannon was devoting much of his energy to producing other artists, most notably Smith and Brian Hyland. Shannon was a perennially popular artist on the oldies circuit (particularly in Europe, where he had an especially devoted audience), and was always up for a comeback attempt on record. Sessions with Jeff Lynne and Dave Edmunds in the '70s didn't amount to much, but an early-'80s album produced by Tom Petty (and featuring members of the Heartbreakers as backing musicians) got him into the Top 40 again with a cover of "Sea of Love." He was working on another comeback album with Jeff Lynne, and sometimes rumored as a replacement for Roy Orbison in the Traveling Wilburys, when he unexpectedly killed himself on February 8, 1990, while on anti-depressant drugs.

In 1983, Shannon was enrolled at York College and toured with the New York Jazz Ensemble. Quintin Hicks, an associate of the production team of Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa, later saw Shannon singing with a live band in her cousin's recording studio. Shannon auditioned for Liggett and Barbosa with the song "She Can't Love You Like I Do". They introduced her to the selection "Fire and Ice," which would later evolve into Shannon's signature song, "Let The Music Play;" its unique sound, called "The Shannon Sound," would later come to be known as "freestyle." Let The Music Play would also be the title of Shannon's debut album, which she released in 1984.

In September 1983, "Let The Music Play" was released, and Shannon was invited back to record more songs with Liggett and Barbosa. The single reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard R&B and Hot Dance Club Play charts. It also was ranked at #49 of Billboard's Top 100 songs of 1984. It was later ranked #23 among Billboard's best dance songs of all-time. Shannon is considered a one-hit wonder since "Let the Music Play" was the only song to crack the Top 40 on the U.S. pop charts.

Her debut album, Let The Music Play, was released on February 1, 1984. "Give Me Tonight", the follow-up single, reached the number-one spot on the R&B and Hot Dance Club Play charts. The song went to number 46 on the pop charts. It was one of Billboard's top 30 dance songs for the year of 1984. In the United States, the third single was "My Heart's Divided." The single, featuring Jimi Tunnell as one of the back up vocalists, became a moderate hit on the Dance Chart. "Sweet Somebody," a mid-tempo soul effort, made the Top 20 in a few European nations.

Shannon's album Let the Music Play went on to sell approximately 1.5 million worldwide,[13] with 500,000 of those sold in the United States, earning gold certification. Shannon was nominated for a Grammy Award and received numerous other awards, including the Dinah Washington (Jack the Rapper) Award, the Hall of Fame Award, the Gold Ampex Reel Award, a certified gold disc by the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Best Billboard Top 10 female R&B vocalist.

In 1985, Shannon released her second album, Do You Wanna Get Away. The title track was the first single and it became her third single to appear on the Hot 100, and it reached #1 on the Dance Chart. She scored three more dance hits, including "Stronger Together," a cover of "Urgent" by Foreigner, and "Stop the Noise," with a video sponsored by Pepsi and Black Angus. Love Goes All the Way, Shannon's third album, was released in 1986.

Shannon asked to be released from her recording contract with Atlantic Records in 1987. She recorded soundtracks, jingles, and the track "Criminal," for the movie Fatal Beauty. While touring the world, Shannon attended and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

In 1998, she co-wrote and sang on multi tracks produced by Todd Terry, Tony Moran, and Germany's Sash! and Les Rythmes Digitales. In 1999, Shannon appeared in a segment of VH1's One-Hit Wonders. Entertainment Tonight also taped a special about her life. Was managed for a period of time by Eric Vega producer of shows and events.

Shannon's fourth studio album, The Best Is Yet to Come, was released on March 28, 2000. She is credited as 50% writer of the album. Chris Barbosa served as a producer, along with Andy "Panda" Tripoli and Tony Moran. Shannon later released a compilation album, Let The Music Play: The Best of Shannon, in 2004.

On April 20, 2006, Shannon participated in the Freestyle Extranvaganza concert along with artists Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, The Cover Girls, Coro, and Stevie B.. The event was sponsored by WKTU, WSKQ, and WCAA in New York.

A fifth studio album, A Beauty Returns, was released in 2007.

Today, Shannon is a voting member of the Grammys (Recording Academy), and she occasionally performs shows around the world.

Shannon (born Shannon Brenda Greene on May 2, 1958, in Washington, D.C.), is an American singer. She is best known for her 1983 dance-freestyle record "Let the Music Play."
In July 1983, the "Let the Music Play" single was released without her knowledge. Shannon was invited back to lay down more songs for Liggett and Barbosa. Barbosa, a Puerto Rican from New York was considered the founder of Freestyle music, and "Let the Music Play" has become widely acknowledged as the first Latin freestyle track.
Politics within Atlantic Records were affecting the atmosphere, and Shannon asked to be released from her recording contract in 1987. Earlier that year, she had managed to record one last single, "Criminal," for the movie Fatal Beauty. This track was a pop-sounding single typical of the era, and lacked the soulful punch of other Shannon recordings. The single had a flip side by the R&B act Madame X.


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Let the Music Play

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