Iconic Shangri-Las frontwoman, Mary Weiss, passes away at 75

Jan 22, 2024
As news broke of Weiss' passing, fans flocked to social media to pay tribute to her "brilliant" contributions to music. Source: AP PHOTO.

Mary Weiss, the captivating lead vocalist of the iconic 1960s pop ensemble, the Shangri-Las has passed away at the age of 75.

Founder of Weiss’ label, Norton Records, Miriam Linna announced that Weiss passed away on Friday, January 19 in Palm Springs, California.

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

No cause of death was provided.

Born December 28, 1948, Weiss’ journey into the world of music began in the school plays and choirs of her youth.

Influenced by her brother’s passion for Elvis and the vibrant music scene of the time, Weiss developed an appreciation for artists like Neil Sedaka and The Everly Brothers, attending her first Everly Brothers concert at the age of 14 in 1963.

Weiss’ journey took a significant turn when she formed a musical connection with twins Mary Ann and Margie Ganser during grammar school. Together with her sister Betty, they sang at local events, catching the attention of producer Artie Ripp, who signed them to Kama Sutra Productions after recording demos at the iconic Brill Building in 1964. Under Red Bird Records, the group, known as the Shangri-Las, produced hits like Remember (Walking in the Sand) and the chart-topping Leader of the Pack in 1964.

The Shangri-Las enjoyed immense popularity before parting ways in 1968. Following a period of exploration in San Francisco, Weiss returned to New York and occasionally reunited with the Shangri-Las in the 1970s, attempting a comeback with Sire Records in 1977. A final reunion occurred in 1989 at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

In 2019, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, honoured the Shangri-Las’ Leader of the Pack in its Singles category.

In 2005, Weiss left her job in commercial interiors to rekindle her musical passion. March 2007 saw the release of her critically acclaimed solo album, Dangerous Game, backed by The Reigning Sound.

As news broke of Weiss’ passing, fans flocked to social media to pay tribute to her “brilliant” contributions to music.

Weiss is survived by her husband, Ed, and sister, Liz.

-with AP.

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