- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was contributed by Jennifer Putzier, director of the Batavia Depot Museum.
The talented singer and songwriter Jackie DeShannon, best known for such hits as “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Bette Davis Eyes”, once called Batavia home.
Jackie DeShannon was born Sharon Lee Myers on Aug. 21, 1941, in the tiny town of Hazel, KY. Her parents, James and Sandra Myers (nee LaMonte), were musically inclined — they both played guitar, her father played harmonica, and her mother sang. There was always music in the home.
Jackie began her musical training as early as age 2.
Farm life was tough for the Myers in the early 1950s, and the family moved to Aurora, where Sandra was originally from. After only a short stay, they moved north to Batavia in 1953.
James relied on his skills as a barber to support the family, working at both the W. G. Larsen Barber shop in Batavia and the Bobbette Shop in Geneva.
Jackie continued to develop her talents in Batavia, singing in church and even appearing on local radio and television. As early as eighth grade, she hosted her own Saturday morning radio show on Aurora station WMRO called “Breakfast Melodies.”
In May 1955, the Batavia Herald said of Jackie: “Though only 13, the youngster can boast almost 11 years of voice training and experience and in the past she has toured most of the south making personal appearances. Also she has sung on the radio with a rhythm band for two years and has appeared on television three times.”
Jackie attended Batavia High School from 1955 to 1957, but left before her expected graduation date of 1959 to pursue her music career. Her family remained in Batavia until 1964, when they moved to Hollywood.
It was the record label that changed her name for the stage; after experimenting with “Sherry Lee”, “Sharon Lee” “Jackie Dee,” they finally settled on “Jackie DeShannon.”
When asked why, Jackie recalled in a 2003 interview. “In the beginning when I was making records, radio stations were not playing records by girls. It was suggested I choose a name that could be a boy or a girl. So there you have it!”
Jackie DeShannon is considered to be one of the first successful female singer-songwriters in rock ‘n’ roll, paving the way for others that came after her. In 1964, she both opened for the Beatles’ North American Tour and starred in the film “Surf Party.”
In 1969, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”, written and performed by Jackie, made it to No. 4 on the U.S. charts. In 1981, “Bette Davis Eyes” which Jackie had co-written with Donna Weiss, became a worldwide hit as sung by Kim Carnes and earned Jackie a Grammy the next year.
Today, Jackie continues to write and produce music, and is a correspondent on the weekly radio show “Breakfast with the Beatles.”
About the Batavia Depot Museum
The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a partnership between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place. Open seasonally, March through November. Summer hours started June 1 and are 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Read The Kane County History Series!
- 1850-1925 Geneva — When Penmanship Was Mightier Than The Sword
- St. Charles Museum Site — From Serving Gas To Preserving History
- Elgin Puts 3,500 Priceless Photos Online
- Batavia-Inspired Miniatures Thrilled a Nation
- Aurora’s Maud Powell, World Famous Violinist
- Waxing Nostalgic on Geneva’s WGSB, WFXW
- American Doughboys of WWI — in St. Charles, IL
- Experience High-Tech History at April 21 ‘Open Elgin’ Event
- Batavia, IL — ‘Windmill Capital of The World’
- Meet Andy Aurora, Man About Town
- Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 in Geneva
- Blue Goose And Evergreen Pub — ‘Shop Local’ 90 Years In The Making
- Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial’s Eye
- Nordens Soner And Batavia’s Swedish Society
- Aurora’s Melting Pot ‘Yearning To Breathe Free’
- Candles, Timing Devices, Phonographs And The ‘Life Cup’ — All Things Made in Geneva
- Hotel Baker, The ‘Masterpiece’ of The Fox Valley
- Elgin Celebrates Our Once-Burgeoning Dairy Business
- Reflections of Batavia’s Quarry Beach Pool
- Aurora’s Mabel O’Donnell, Author of “Alice And Jerry’ Books
- As Alice (Davis) Says, ‘Schools Out For Summer!’
- Elgin Watches, ‘The World’s Standard’
- Aurora Silverplate a Symbol of Good Taste
- Women Leaders Played Huge Roles in Geneva
- Nationally Renowned Summer Camp in St. Charles
- The Harrowing Story of William Lynch, Elgin’s Civil War Brigadier General
- Batavia Powered The Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway
- Corsets Doing Big Business in Aurora? Scandalous!
- One Block of Geneva Tells 1,001 Fantastic Stories
- St. Charles’ Evergreen Pub — The ‘Before’ Photos
- 1917-18 — When Elgin Artists Went to War
- Thomas Cleveland — Batavia’s Presidential Connection
- Do Your Wurst — Aurora Meat Markets Are ‘In’ Again
- Geneva Is The Place For Graveyards And Ghosts
- Visit Amelia Anderson At St. Charles’ North Side Cemetery
- Calling All Artists! … For a Cobblestone Reflection in Elgin
- Batavia’s 108-Year-Old Gazebo Still Lights The Way
- The Compelling, Tragic Story of Aurora’s Black WWI Hero Frank Boger
- Geneva History Museum Invites Artists To Celebrate Cultural Heritage
- Elgin’s Anson Clark Soared in The Great War … And Life
- What It Meant To Be a Patrol Boy and Louise White School
- ‘Men’s Night’ Christmas Shopping Was a 1950’s Aurora Phenomenon
- St. Charles Remembers Colson’s Christmas-Day Fire of ’33
- The Art of Elgin’s Cobblestone Reflections
- When Suffrage Met Prohibition in Batavia
- Geneva Presents The Art of The Fox River
- Blansford Astronomical Clock Is Aurora’s Treasure
- St. Charles Returns Family Heirlooms From WWII
- Museum Lands Painting By Elgin Artist Albert Kenney
- Cars Still Fixed at Historic Location in Downtown Batavia
- A Bird’s-Eye View of 19th Century Geneva
- Sheldon Peck: Kane County’s Connection To The Underground Railroad
- Elgin High School Celebrates 150 Years of ‘Education For All’
- Batavia’s Incredible Roller Skating History
- The Fabled History of Jewelry Stores in Geneva
- Astonishing Buried Treasure Discovered in Aurora Outhouse
- Lincoln Elementary School in St. Charles Celebrates 90 Years of Education
- Remembering Elgin High Grad, Renowned Composer Daniel Brewbaker, 1951 – 2017
- Meet Batavia’s Sharron Moran, LPGA Star, ‘Most Beautiful Golfer’ of 1966
- The Many Iterations of Geneva’s National Food Store
- The Burlington Zephyr — A ‘Silver Streak’ Through Aurora
- What IS That Thing in Downtown St. Charles?
- 18 Events, Limited-Edition Poster For Preservation Month in Elgin!
- Julius Amandus Anderson’s WWI Memorial Trapunto Banner
- Geneva’s Swedish Days Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary
- The Historic Drive To Save Aurora’s GAR Hall
- The Story of St. Charles’ Paddlewheel Riverboats
- Meet Elgin’s Legendary Marshal — Andrew Barclay Spurling