Music world pays tribute after death of The Shangri-Las’ Mary Weiss

Mary Weiss, the lead singer of the highly influential 1960s girl group The Shangri-Las, has died at the age of 75.

The news was confirmed to Rolling Stone yesterday (January 19) by Miriam Linna of Norton Records, who released Weiss’ only solo album ‘Dangerous Game’ in 2007. “Mary was an icon, a hero, a heroine, to both young men and women of my generation and all generations,” Linna said.

The Shangri-Las were known for a string of artful, cinematic singles in the ‘60s which often depicted highly melodramatic teen tragedies, including ‘Leader of the Pack’ (a US Number One single), ‘I Can Never Go Home Anymore’ and ‘Give Him a Great Big Kiss’.

Weiss was born in 1948 and grew up in Queens, New York. Together with her sister Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, she joined the twins Marge and Mary Ann Ganser to form the band and they started to draw attention with their shows at local dances.

They were invited into the legendary music production house, the Brill Building, in 1964 and connected with producer George “Shadow” Morton, with whom they recorded their debut single, ‘Remember (Walking in the Sand)’.

After their run of successful singles, the band split in 1968 amid legal difficulties, which led to Weiss being unable to record new music for 10 years. “When we started, it was all about music. By the time it ended, it was all about litigation,” she once reflected to Rolling Stone.

Weiss spent the next several decades outside of the public eye, moving to San Francisco to work at an architecture firm. The Shangri-Las made only very occasional public appearances and performances after the split.

She released her lone solo album ‘Dangerous Game’ in 2007, on which she was backed by the Memphis garage rock band Reigning Sound.

Ronnie Spector, who fronted another of the leading ‘60s girl groups The Ronettes, passed away in January 2022. A message was posted on her official Instagram page in tribute to Weiss: “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 honor.”

The band Garbage also wrote a touching post on Instagram in tribute to Weiss. “Sad to hear of your passing Mary Weiss. You gave me much pleasure while I was growing up. In point of fact you still do and always will. I identified very much with you when I was a teen. I loved the spooky side of you,” wrote the band’s Shirley Manson.

See a range of further tributes to Mary Weiss below.

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