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The Shangri-Las

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The Shangri-Las were an American music of the that became well known for their ‘streetwise’ image and popular songs about teenage angst, being massively influential among later . The group was formed at Andrew Jackson High School, located in Queens, New York, in 1963. It consisted of two sets of sisters: Mary Weiss and Elizabeth “Liz/Betty” Weiss alongside identical twins Marguerite “Marge” and Mary Ann Ganser.

After working together for a bit, Mary Weiss ended up singing lead. In April of 1964, since the girls were still minors, their parents signed for them with Red Bird Records, with their name coming from the title of a mythical place of wonder. Mary was 15, Betty was 17, and the Ganser twins were 16. That same year, they had their first hit with “Remember (Walking in the Sand)”. The song, a U.S. #5 and a U.K. #14, was created after producer George “Shadow” Morton hired the band.

Their songs with “Shadow” Morton featured lavish production with heavy orchestration and sound effects. Their biggest hit, the renowned death disc “Leader of the Pack”, climaxes with the sounds of roaring motorcycles and breaking glass. A U.S. #1 and U.K. #11 hit, the tune still gets serious airplay to this day.

According to a Biography episode on various ‘Brill Building’ songwriters, including retrospective interviews with Greenwich, Barry and Morton among others, Barry said that at the time he was suspicious of Morton’s overt attention to Greenwich.

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