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20 January 2024

Shangri-Las Lead Singer Mary Weiss Dies at 75

Mary Weiss, lead singer of the Shangri-Las
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Mary Weiss, the lead singer of The Shangri-Las, has died aged 75. Her death was confirmed by Miriam Linna of Norton Records, who released Weiss’ only solo album in 2007. No cause of death was cited.

“Mary was an icon, a hero, a heroine, to both young men and women of my generation and of all generations,” Linna said.

The Shangri-Las were one of the most beloved girl groups of the early 1960s, with hits including Leader Of The Pack, Great Big Kiss, Remember (Walking In The Sand) and Heaven Only Knows. The group were made up of two sets of sisters – Mary and Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, and twins Marguerite and Mary Ann Ganser – who all attended the same school in the Queens borough of New York.

They began performing at local nightclubs in 1963 before coming to the attention of producer Artie Ripp, who arranged the group’s first record deal with Kama Sutra records, with whom they released their debut single, Simon Says, in December 1963.

Their breakthrough came when songwriter ‘Shadow’ Morton asked the group to record his song Remember (Walking In The Sand) – The Shangri-Las version reached No 5 in the US Billboard chart in the summer of 1964. It was followed by their first No 1, Leader Of The Pack. After several more hits, the group split in 1968.

The Shangri-Las regrouped in 1976 but the songs they recorded remain unreleased. They occasionally toured over the years, and Norton Records released Weiss’ only solo album, Dangerous Game, in 2007, which she toured to support.

The official X account of Ronnie Spector, who co-founded the Ronettes and died in January 2022, shared a tribute. “We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Mary Weiss’ passing. She and Ronnie were kindred spirits; two fearless bad girls of the 60s. Join us as we spin the Shangri-Las in her honour,” the statement said.

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