Anniversary of Del Shannon's Suicide

(Gibson) On this day in 1990, suffering from depression, American singer-songwriter Del Shannon died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. He had the 1961 U.K. and U.S. #1 single "Runaway," plus nine U.S. and 12 other U.K. Top 40 singles. It had been rumoured he was to join The Traveling Wilburys after Roy Orbison's death. Gibson takes a look back:

At just after 11:30 p.m. on this day in 1990, rock and roll innovator Del Shannon was found dead, slumped in a rocking chair in the den of his new Santa Clarita Valley home. A .22-caliber rifle was found next to Shannon's body. It looked like suicide to Deputy Bill Linnemeyer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Shannon's manager Dan Bourgoise, said the singer had been depressed lately, that he was concerned about his new home and had been suffering form the flu for several weeks.

At the same time, Del Shannon's career was on the up after a decade-long slump. He'd been working with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne and was rumored to be replacing Roy Orbison, who had died, in the Traveling Wilburys supergroup. He'd recently played a sell-out show on February 3 at a Buddy Holly tribute concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, before heading back to his new house in California.

Shannon's behavior became erratic when he started on depression medication. Stressed from the pressure of booking his own shows, setting up a European tour and releasing a new single, Shannon visited a psychiatrist. The medication he took for the next two weeks would, according to his wife, drastically alter his moods and personality. "I watched him turn into somebody who was agitated, pacing, had trembling hands, insomnia and couldn't function," she said. more on this story

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