Shangri-Las lead singer Mary Weiss dies aged 75
Mary Weiss, the lead vocalist of the 1960s pop ensemble The Shangri-Las, has passed away at the age of 75, as announced by her record label.
Miriam Linna of Norton Records expressed, “Mary was an icon, a hero, a heroine, to both young men and women of my generation and of all generations,” in a released statement.
Comprising two pairs of sisters, The Shangri-Las originated in the Queens borough of New York. Their notable hits encompassed “Remember” and their most renowned track, “Leader of the Pack.”
The group consisted of Mary and Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, along with twins Marguerite and Mary Ann Ganser, all of whom attended the same New York school. After catching the eye of producer Artie Ripp, they secured their initial record deal and recorded their first piece, “Simon Says,” in 1963. “Leader of the Pack” followed a year later.
The latter song, a tragic narrative about a young girl falling for a boy “from the wrong side of town” who meets his demise in a motorcycle crash, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.
The group disbanded in 1968, and Weiss later disputed the characterization of them as “tough,” stating, “If you look at the old tapes, I don’t think that word would even come up. Maybe it was the boots,” as quoted in an interview.
The Shangri-Las helped pioneer the girl group era alongside the Ronettes.
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.
Weiss was absent from the music industry for many years, but in 2007 released a solo album titled Dangerous Game.