Showbiz: The rebel 'with rock in his heart'
By Don Groves and Jacqueline Lee Lewes
The Sydney Sun-Herald - June 22, 1980
If it weren't for one of the new rock heroes, Tom Petty, one of the original rockers, Del Shannon, might now be twanging his guitar in Nashville.
Shannon, creator of such hits of the Sixties as Runaway, Hats Off to Larry and Little Town Flirt, was all set to jump on the country and western bandwaggon last year when Petty's manager called him.
A long-time admirer of the rock pioneer, Petty wanted to combine their talents in the recording studio.
"When we got together, I had to rock again," Shannon set in Melbourne last week at the start of a three-State club tour (he opens in Sydney on Tuesday at Penrith Leagues Club).
"Rock is in my heart."
Country and western evidently wasn't, and he didn't go to Nashville.
Shannon first recorded four tracks with Petty, then had to wait almost nine months while Petty sorted out contract problems.
After another delay while Petty toured Australia, they did three more tracks. Shannon hopes to finish the album in August.
It will be his first release in five years. In the meantime he has toured the US and Europe regularly, and his publishing company has helped pay the bills.
"I could afford to be patient," he said. "Someone told me to 'go disco.' I said, 'No thanks, I'll wait.' Trying to do something that isn't me never comes off anyway.
"I have bene a rebel all my life and I'm still doing rebel songs. I hate conforming."
One side of the non-comformist is his aversion to cities. He hates smog and crowding.
A lover of the open spaces, he lives in the mountains about 70km from Los Angeles.
Australian audiences will hear some of his new material, but he also guarantees he'll do all his classics.