The Del Shannon Show is a unique concert experience with James Popenhagen that could only be performed with accurate detail and energy by a close friend of the late artist.
Michigan native, James Popenhagen, is far from your average artist – he is a multi-talented well rounded individual sculpted by his love for music from the 1950’s and 60’s. James has been performing since the age of eight after meeting his grandfather’s friend, Del Shannon, best known for his number one hit “Runaway.” From that moment on, James began pursuing a career in the music industry and didn’t waste a moment getting started. He taught himself to play 8 different instruments and formed his first band at the age of 12, filling various shoes, from bassist and piano player, to finally guitarist and front man.
His grandfather Bob Popenhagen, was Shannon’s lead guitar player at the HiLo Club in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan back in the 1950’s and 60’s. Shannon and the Popenhagen’s would keep a close friendship until Shannon’s untimely death in 1990.
James has performed and become associated with the likes of Johnny Rivers, Lloyd Price, Chubby Checker, Tommy Roe, Brian Hyland, Frankie Ford, Vince Gill, Bill Anderson and countless other performers from many genres and eras. He has released two solo albums and has collaborated with Nashville music legend Johnny Carver of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” fame. James produced the album with Carver in his own state of the art recording studio, “Steel Dog Studios” where he produces artist when not on the road. He wrote seven of the songs with Carver featured on the album. He has contributed to over two dozen albums as a musician and producer during the past 26 years and has over 150 over a original songs he’s penned himself. When not traveling with the Del Shannon Show James can be found in the studio producing his original songs, as well as other artist, playing all the instruments on the recordings.
He has performed The Del Shannon Show from coast to coast in the US, also in England, Ireland , Scotland just to name a few... James’s tribute is the only Del Shannon tribute endorsed by Del Shannon’s family. James has invested thousands of dollars into having rare vintage equipment customized to capture the sound of Del’s rare guitars. This took years of tracking down the techs that customized and set up Del’s guitars. It was worth the effort and has proved to move the audience as Del would himself.
Del Shannon’s family, friends and fans come from all over regularly to experience Popenhagen’s tribute. After hearing James tribute, Shannon’s wife Shirley Westover, and children, sent James Shannon’s personal stage jewelry to complete the look and vibe of the late Del Shannon. Shannon’s wife said after the performance, “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing... It was so emotional, it was like having Del back again if only for a short time.” Dan Burgoise, founder of “Bug Music” Publishing, in Hollywood, and Shannon’s manager for over 20 years, was so moved by James’ tribute that he encouraged the artist to take the show on the road saying “It’s so close to Del himself at times I forgot it wasn’t! The look, the sound and energy... It’s uncanny.”
Besides music, James has appeared in music videos and also in “Touchback,” a movie starring Kurt Russell and Barry Sanders released in 2013. He is also involved in local community outreaches and serves in his local homeless shelter. When home he enjoys spending his free time on his ranch with his wife Katie, and his son David. James enjoys bringing Del Shannon’s story back to life to audiences of all ages, everywhere. “As soon as the music starts at each show I’m instantly thrust back in time watching Del as his guest at the side of so many stages. I experienced so many of his concerts as his guest that it’s like magic every time... I just step into his vibe.”