Born Sharon Lee Myers on August 21, 1941, Jackie DeShannon is an American singer-songwriter with a string of hit song credits from the 1960s onwards. One of the first female singer-songwriters of the rock 'n' roll period, she was the daughter of musically inclined farming parents, Sandra Jean and James Erwin Myers in Hazel, Kentucky. By age six, she was singing country tunes on a local radio show and hosting her own radio program by eleven. Her family eventually moved to Illinois where she was featured in the local newspaper for her talents, later making personal appearances at community gatherings, the local hospitals, and for assorted organizations. After her own Saturday morning radio show on Radio Station WMRO, she has toured most of the south making personal appearances with a rhythm band for two years and three appearances on television. She appeared on Pee Wee King's popular "Country and Western Television Show" and began to record under various names such as Sherry Lee, Jackie Dee and Jackie Shannon with mixed success, eventually signing to George Goldner's "Gone" label in New York as a rockabilly artist under the name, Jackie Dee. Her only releases were "I'll Be True" and "How Wrong I Was," which appeared in both 78 rpm and 45 rpm versions. Jackie performed at the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia on July 3, 1957 and at the Paramount Theater in New York two weeks later with Alan Freed's "Big Rock 'n' Roll Show." Jackie soon gained the attention of singer Eddie Cochran, who arranged for her to travel to California to meet his girlfriend, singer-songwriter Sharon Sheeley, who formed a writing partnership with Jackie in 1960. The partnership produced hits such as "Dum Dum" for Brenda Lee.
In 1960, DeShannon signed with Liberty Records under the name Jackie DeShannon. While with Liberty Records, she met and married executive Irving "Bud" Dain, but the marriage was annulled in 1967.[Her next single, "Lonely Girl," was followed by "Faded Love," her first US Billboard Top 100 entry in February 1963. Her songs, "Needles and Pins" and "When You Walk in the Room" in 1963, were Top 40 hits in Canada, where "Needles and Pins" made it all the way to #1. She recorded many other singles that encompassed teen pop, country ballads, rockabilly, gospel and soul that didn't always fare well on the charts. She briefly dated Elvis Presley and formed friendships with The Everly Brothers and Ricky Nelson. She also co-starred and sang with Bobby Vinton in the teen surf movie, "Surf Party." She also supplied the singing voice of Dawn Wells as Mary Ann in the episode Don't Bug the Mosquitoes on "Gilligan's Island."
In February 1964, Jackie supported The Beatles on their first US tour and formed a touring band with guitarist Ry Cooder. She also wrote "Don't Doubt Yourself Babe" for The Byrds. Heavily influenced by the American West Coast sounds and folk music, she formed a songwriting partnership with Jimmy Page, which resulted in the hit singles "Dream Boy" and "Don't Turn Your Back on Me." They also wrote material for singer Marianne Faithfull, including her Top Ten UK and US hit "Come and Stay With Me."
Returning to New York, DeShannon co-wrote with Randy Newman and produced "She Don't Understand Him" and "Did He Call Today Mama?" She also wrote songs for Delaney Bramlett, Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Her recording of "What the World Needs Now Is Love" was subsequently used in the movie, "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" in 1969. She also appeared in "C'mon Let's Live a Little" with Bobby Vee as a folk singer. She continued writing songs for entertainers and herself, but it was not until 1969 that she scored her next smash single and album, both entitled "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" in 1969, which sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc. Her single, "Love Will Find A Way," from the same album was also a moderate hit. Switching to Atlantic Records in 1970 and moving to Los Angeles, Jackie recorded the critically acclaimed albums, "Jackie" and "Your Baby Is A Lady," but they failed to produce the same commercial success as previous releases. She also sang along with Van Morrison on his album, 'Hard Nose the Highway" in 1973. Her song, "Put A Little Love In Your Heart," was performed as the closing number at the Music for UNICEF Concert in 1979. She married again in 1977 to singer/songwriter and film composer, Randy Edelman since 1977. They have one son, Noah.
Without any more Top Ten singles to her name, Jackie went on to co-write "Queen of the Rodeo" and "Bette Davis Eyes" with Donna Weiss for her album, "New Arrangement." "Bette Davis Eyes" went on to become a worldwide No. 1 single for Kim Carnes in 1981, earning Weiss and DeShannon the 1982 Grammy Award for Song of the Year. She also went to co-write "Break-A-Way" for Irma Thomas in 1964 and "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" for Annie Lennox and Al Green; the song was also released by Dolly Parton in 1993. She was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2010. Her friendship with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr led to her work as a contributing entertainment broadcast correspondent reporting historical anecdotes and current Beatles band members' news for Breakfast with the Beatles on Sirius XM Satellite Radio on the weekends.