Artist: Dion

Runaround Sue – Dion and the Belmonts

Dion and the Belmonts was a leading American vocal group of the late 1950s. The group formed when Dion DiMucci, lead singer, joined The Belmonts – Carlo Mastrangelo, baritone, , Freddie Milano, second tenor, and Angelo D’Aleo, first tenor,  in late 1957.

After an unsuccessful first single, the group was signed to Laurie Records. Their breakthrough came when “I Wonder Why” reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the group appeared for the first time on American Bandstand. They followed it with the ballads “No One Knows” (No. 19) and “Don’t Pity Me” (No. 40).

This success won Dion and the Belmonts their first major tour in late 1958, with The Coasters, Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin, and this was followed up by the “Winter Dance Party” tour with Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. On 2 February 1959, after playing at the Surf Ballroom, Dion decided that he could not afford the $36 cost of a flight to the next venue. The plane crashed; Holly, Valens, The Big Bopper, and the pilot were killed on 3 February 1959, shortly after midnight. However, the tour continued, with Jimmy Clanton and Bobby Vee being added to the bill as replacements.

In March 1959, Dion and the Belmonts’ next single, “A Teenager in Love”, was released, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 28 in the UK Singles Chart, and this was followed by an album, Presenting Dion and the Belmonts. Their biggest hit, “Where or When”, was released in November 1959, and reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, in early 1960, Dion checked into a hospital for heroin addiction, a problem he had had since his mid-teens. Other singles released for the group that year were less successful. In addition, there were musical and financial disputes between Dion and members of the Belmonts. In October 1960, Dion decided to quit for a solo career. The Belmonts also continued to release records, but with less success.

Dion and the Belmonts reunited in 1966 for the unsuccessful album Together Again on ABC Records, and again in 1972 for a one-off show at Madison Square Garden, recorded and released as a live album.

In 2000, Dion and the Belmonts were inducted in The Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

Runaround Sue

Runaround Sue” is a pop song, originally a US No. 1 hit for the singer Dion during 1961.  The song was written by Ernie Maresca and Dion DiMucci. It was recorded in 1961 by Dion, backed by vocal group The Del-Satins.

It is a song about a man whose ex-girlfriend had commitment trouble and “ran around” (hence the name of the song) with other people in the city. The song caught on with millions for its catchy hook “Hey, hey, hum-ba-diddy-diddy”.

In the liner notes of Dion’s box set King Of The New York Streets, he writes:

It came about by partying in a schoolyard. We were jamming, hitting tops of boxes. I gave everyone parts like the horn parts we’d hear in the Apollo Theater and it became a jam that we kept up for 45 minutes. I came up with all kinds of stuff. But when I actually wrote the song and brought it into the studio to record it, well, her name wasn’t actually Sue. It was about, you know, some girl who loved to be worshiped but as soon as you want a commitment and express your love for her, she’s gone. So the song was a reaction to that kind of woman.

Co-writer Ernie Maresca said:

Everybody was singing in the neighborhood, on the street corners and in the hallways. I was in a group called The Regents at the time. They didn’t have a hit yet. Everybody was coming to me for songs, which was nice, you know. … I’d never even heard of Laurie Records until I went up there with Dion and met Gene and Bob [Schwartz] who owned the company. After they put out ‘No One Knows’, I would go up there with demos. I used to cut a lot of demos, you know. Then they cut an album and on it they put “Runaround Sue”.

The song’s melody is very similar to “Quarter to Three”, a song released by Gary U.S. Bonds a few months prior to the release of “Runaround Sue.”

An answer song was “I’m No Runaround Sue” by Ginger and the Snaps.

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Here’s my story, it’s sad but true
It’s about a girl that I once knew
She took my love then ran around
With every single guy in town

I should have known it from the very start
This girl will leave me with a broken heart
Now listen people what I’m telling you
A-keep away from-a Runaround Sue, yeah

I might miss her lips and the smile on her face
The touch of her hand and this girl’s warm embrace
So if you don’t wanna cry like I do
A-keep away from-a Runaround Sue

She likes to travel around, yeah
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
Sue goes out with other guys

Here’s the moral and the story from the guy who knows
I fell in love and my love still grows
Ask any fool that she ever knew, they’ll say
A-keep away from-a Runaround Sue

Yeah, keep away from this girl
I know, know what she’ll do
Keep away from Sue

She likes to travel around, yeah
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
A-she goes out with other guys

Here’s the moral and the story from the guy who knows
I fell in love and my love still grows
Ask any fool that she ever knew, they’ll say
A-keep away from-a Runaround Sue, yeah

Stay away from that girl
Don’t you know what to do now

Keep away from that girl
Don’t you know what to do now

  • Audio from the 1961 album, Runaround Sue:
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