A time for Sharon

Tomorrow would have been Sharon Sheeley’s 73rd birthday, and I figured I owe her some sort of tribute after expropriating her name for a piece of 1980s collaborative fiction. By trade, she was a songwriter, and she got her first Number One at the tender age of eighteen: “Poor Little Fool,” sung by Ricky Nelson.

Managed by Jerry Capehart, she eventually took up with one of Capehart’s major clients: Eddie Cochran, for whom she wrote “Love Again.” In 1960, Cochran, Sheeley and Gene Vincent had hired a cab to London following a Bristol concert: Sheeley and Vincent were badly roughed up, and Cochran died from his injuries.

Returning to the States, Sheeley partnered with singer/songwriter Jackie DeShannon; she eventually married deejay Jimmy O’Neill (a lad from Soonerland, you should know), and together they worked up a TV series for producer Chuck Barris, which was called Shindig. Eventually they split, and Sheeley retired from the music biz; she died in 2002.

My favorite Sheeley song, I think, is a collaboration with DeShannon titled “Breakaway” — or, more precisely, “Break-A-Way.” Tracey Ullman cut this as a single during her brief flirtation with pop music, and the giddy-schoolgirl video is pure Eighties. I’m sure Sharon loved it.

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