Del Shannon must have been having mixed emotions in the autumn of 1962. After his huge initial success with ‘Runaway’ and ‘Hats Off To Larry,’ he’d gone distinctly off the boil in the US, with four consecutive singles that failed to make the top 20. One of them, ‘Cry Myself To Sleep,’ barely made the Hot 100 at all. The major consolation was that in the UK, the singer-writer from Coopersville, Michigan could do very little wrong.
Following that opening double-header, Del had made the British top ten again with both ‘So Long Baby’ and ‘Hey! Little Girl.’ Admittedly, his fans across the Atlantic weren’t too keen on ‘Cry Myself To Sleep’ either, and it peaked at No. 29. But his UK label, London, acted swiftly and released ‘The Swiss Maid’ as his next single there within a matter of weeks.
The song was penned by the hugely gifted writer-performer Roger Miller, who had recorded it the year before under the title ‘Fair Swiss Maiden.’ Shannon’s version swiftly ran its course in the US, with a mere No. 64 peak.
But he had the major promotional benefit in the UK of starting his first tour there in September 1962, on an attractive double bill with Dion, and a supporting cast including Joe Brown, the Allisons and others. In mid-October, ‘The Swiss Maid’ started its climb up the British charts, albeit with a cautious No. 42 entry.
It moved fast, climbing to No. 19 and then spending an impressive nine weeks in the top ten. In early December, it peaked at No. 2 — blocked from the No. 1 spot by Frank Ifield’s ‘Lovesick Blues’ — and was the fifth of what would be seven top ten UK hits for Del inside two years. In another bonus for his international credentials, the single spent three weeks at No. 1 in Australia.
‘The Swiss Maid’ is on Runaway: The Very Best of Del Shannon, which can be bought here.