Runaround Sue

"Runaround Sue" is a rock and roll song, in a modified doo-wop style, originally a US No. 1 hit for the singer Dion during 1961 after he split with the Belmonts. The song ranked No. 351 on the Rolling Stone list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[3] It was written by Dion with Ernie Maresca, and tells the story of a disloyal lover. UK singer Doug Sheldon's version reached number 36 in the UK charts in 1961.

"Runaround Sue"
Runaround Sue - Dion.jpg
Single by Dion
from the album Runaround Sue
B-side"Runaway Girl"
ReleasedSeptember 1961[1]
Producer(s)Gene Schwartz
Dion singles chronology
"Somebody Nobody Wants"
"Runaround Sue"
"The Wanderer"

Dion versionEdit

Writing and recordingEdit

According to Dion, he started to put the song together at an informal party for a friend's birthday, where he started improvising lyrics and encouraged his friends to add doo-wop background harmonies to a clapping rhythm. He then took the idea to his friend, budding songwriter Ernie Maresca, and they developed the tune and lyrics together. Having recently split with the Belmonts, Dion then discovered another vocal group, the Del-Satins, and they rehearsed the song. The co-owner of Laurie Records, Gene Schwartz, liked the song, and it was recorded in summer 1961 at the Bell Sound recording studio in New York City.[4]

The lyrics are sung from the point of view of a man whose former girlfriend, named Sue, was extremely unfaithful. He warns all potential lovers to avoid her at all costs, as Sue "runs around" with every guy she meets and never settles down with any man in particular. He advises: "now people let me put you wise, Sue goes out with other guys" and suggests that potential suitors should "keep away from Runaround Sue". Dion stated in his autobiography The Wanderer that although his wife's name was Susan, "Runaround Sue" had nothing to do with her, and elsewhere stated that the name Sue was of a girl he had admired from a distance and that "her name fit the lyric line perfectly."[4] However, during a 1990 interview with his wife on The Oprah Winfrey Show, they presented the story that the song was indeed about her.[5]

The musicians included:[4]

Chart performanceEdit

Leif Garrett coverEdit

"Runaround Sue"
Single by Leif Garrett
from the album Leif Garrett
B-side"I Wanna Share a Dream with You"
ReleasedNovember 1977
LabelAtlantic 3110
Producer(s)Michael Lloyd
Leif Garrett singles chronology
"Surfin' USA"
"Runaround Sue"
"Put Your Head on My Shoulder"

"Runaround Sue" was covered by then 15-year-old Leif Garrett in 1977. The song was the second of four releases from his debut album, all of which became U.S. chart hits. All four songs were covers of major hits from 1959 to 1963, including Dion's two biggest hits. Of the four, "Runaround Sue" was the most successful for Garrett. In early 1978, his version reached No. 13 on Billboard and No. 18 on Cash Box. The song also reached No. 15 in Canada.[12]

On superstation WLS-AM in Chicago, "Runaround Sue" reached #1 for one week[13] and was ranked at #42 for the year.[14]

Garrett was born during the chart run of Dion's original version of "Runaround Sue," during the fall of 1961. Garrett's cover of the song hit the charts the week of his 16th birthday.

Chart performanceEdit

Other cover versions and samplesEdit



  1. ^ Strong, M. C. (1995). The Great Rock Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate Books Ltd. p. 220. ISBN 0-86241-385-0.
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Runaround Sue - Dion | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  3. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Myers, Marc (2016). Anatomy of a Song. Grove Press. p. 35-39. ISBN 978-1-61185-525-8.
  5. ^ "The Real-Life 'Runaround Sue' Who Inspired the Legendary Song". OWN. August 18, 2016 – via YouTube.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "flavour of new zealand - Lever hit parades". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Dion Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  10. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1961/Top 100 Songs of 1961". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on July 25, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  13. ^ WLS Musicradio Survey, January 7, 1978
  14. ^ WLS Musicradio 'Big 89 of 1978'.
  15. ^ a b Hung, Steffen. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  16. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  17. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". April 2, 1978. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  18. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  19. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 94.
  20. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on July 25, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  21. ^ "1978 Year End". Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  22. ^ Caramanica, Jon (March 28, 2014). "A Rapper Appropriating Dion's Cool". New York Times.
  23. ^ Stewart, Allison (February 14, 2013). "G-Eazy's musical education is an ongoing process". Chicago Tribune.
  24. ^

External linksEdit