Shangri-Las Singer Dies at 75 – Billboard

Mary Weiss, the lead vocalist of The Shangri-Las — the Nineteen Sixties pop woman group behind the No. 1 hit “Chief of the Pack” — has died. She was 75.

A consultant for Weiss’ document label, Norton Information, confirmed the information of her demise to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday (Jan. 20). Norton launched Weiss’ solely solo album, Harmful Sport, in 2007.

No explanation for demise has been reported.


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“I believe you’re born with music in you,” Weiss mentioned at a Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame and Museum occasion in 2007. “I sang from the time I might converse. I used to be all the time into music, all the time. My brother was lots older than me and had an in depth document assortment, and I listened to every little thing.”

In sixth grade, Weiss noticed The Everly Brothers carry out at a theme park and was impressed by their harmonies. “I all the time thought they have been so underrated so far as what they offered for music and concord,” she mentioned.

Along with her older sister Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, and mates Marguerite “Marge” and Mary Ann Ganser, twins whom the Weiss sisters met in grammar faculty, the group bought collectively within the Cambria Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York. “We used to sing concord on the road nook, in bogs, in tunnels — Central Park has some nice tunnels if you wish to sing concord — and that’s just about how we began,” Weiss mentioned throughout her interview with the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame and Museum. Collectively they carried out at native expertise exhibits and college occasions, being too younger to look in golf equipment.

In 1964, when Weiss was simply 14, the group met producer and songwriter George “Shadow” Morton. Working with him, they broke by with their recording of “Bear in mind (Strolling within the Sand),” launched in 1964 by way of Crimson Hen Information, adopted by singles just like the chart-topping “Chief of the Pack” and “Give Him a Nice Huge Kiss” the identical yr, and “I Can By no means Go House Anymore” in 1965.

As Weiss was a minor, her mom signed her contracts. The group launched solely two studio albums earlier than shifting to Mercury Information and disbanding in 1968 amid litigation.

In 2007, Weiss recalled of the group’s busy years within the mid-’60s, “My total life was a whirlwind … For 4 or 5 years, I might fall asleep and never keep in mind what state I used to be in once I wakened as a result of I might do a TV present within the morning and a radio factor within the afternoon, and be on a airplane and be some place else. That was my life.”

“Initially, I liked the music. I didn’t like plenty of the issues that got here with it. I believe it was very, very arduous in 1964 to be a lady within the music enterprise,” she mentioned.

Weiss admitted that her “powerful picture stored lots of people away, which was actually vital for survival.”

“It was very troublesome again then as a result of I actually imagine that plenty of males have been thought-about ‘artists’ whether or not or not different folks wrote for them. Girls have been thought-about merchandise,” Weiss defined. “I all the time discovered that troublesome to simply accept.”

The Shangri-Las shared live performance payments with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, James Brown and extra famed acts. Weiss recalled the time Brown booked the group for a present in Texas in a 2007 interview with Rolling Stone, saying, “After I walked out onstage, I assumed he was going to have a coronary. He didn’t understand I used to be white.”

The Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame honored “Chief of the Pack” in its singles class in 2019.

After her time performing with The Shangri-Las, Weiss went on to pursue a profession as a business inside designer and marketing consultant in New York Metropolis.

Weiss is survived by her husband, Ed, and sister, Liz, who’s the final dwelling member of The Shangri-Las.

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