Mary Weiss: Shangri-Las lead singer dies aged 75


Mary Weiss in 2010
Image caption,Mary Weiss in 2010

By Oliver Slow

BBC News

Mary Weiss, lead singer of the 1960s pop group The Shangri-Las, has died at the age of 75, her record label said.

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

The Shangri-Las were made up of two sets of sisters, and formed in the Queens borough of New York.

Their hits included Remember and their best known song, Leader of the Pack.

The group was made up of Mary and Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, and twins Marguerite and Mary Ann Ganser, who all attended the same school in New York.

They began performing at local shows before coming to the attention of producer Artie Ripp, who arranged the group’s first record deal.

Their first recording was in 1963 with Simon Says, and Leader of the Pack was recorded a year later.

The song – a tragedy about a young girl falling for a boy “from the wrong side of town” who later dies in a motorbike crash – entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

The group split up in 1968, and Weiss later said she disagreed with the idea that they were “tough”.

“If you look at the old tapes, I don’t think that word would even come up. Maybe it was the boots,” she was quoted as saying 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.

Mary Weiss

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