Mary Weiss, Member of the ’60s Girl Group The Shangri-Las, Dies at 75

Mary Weiss The Shangri-Las
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The lead vocalist of the ’60s pop girl group, The Shangri-Las, has passed away. Mary Weiss was 75 years old and as of now, a cause of death has not yet been revealed. The Shangri-Las were best known for their hit song “Leader of the Pack.” Weiss also released one solo album called Dangerous Game in 2007. A representative from her record label, Norton Records, confirmed the news of her death.

Weiss once shared that she was always singing from the time she could talk. When she was in the sixth grade, she saw The Everly Brothers perform at a theme park and became inspired to start her own group. The Shangri-Las were comprised of Weiss, her sister Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, and friends Marguerite “Marge” and Mary Ann Ganser. They began performing at talent shows and school events. They met producer and songwriter George “Shadow” Morton in 1964, when Weiss was only 14 years old, and their careers began.

The Shangri-Las, L-R Mary Ann Ganser, Betty Weiss, Marge Ganser and Mary Weiss, pose for a studio group portrait in 1964 in the United States

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In 2007, Weiss recalled how crazy those young years of her life were. She explained, “My entire life was a whirlwind … For four or five years, I would go to sleep and not remember what state I was in when I woke up because I would do a TV show in the morning and a radio thing in the afternoon, and be on a plane and be some place else. That was my life. Initially, I loved the music. I didn’t like a lot of the things that came with it. I think it was very, very hard in 1964 to be a woman in the music business.”

Mary Weiss of The Shangri-Las attends the 2010 Rock Con: The National Rock & Roll Fan Fest at the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel & Conference Center on July 31, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey

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During the height of their fame, the group toured with The Rolling Stones, James Brown, and The Beatles. Ultimately, they disbanded in 1968. While Weiss dabbled in solo music, she also became a commercial interior designer and consultant in New York City. She is survived by her husband, and sister who is now the last living member of The Shangri-Las.

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Pop Music Legends

August 2017

Dedicated to the sights, sounds and stories of the golden age of pop.

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