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The Shangri-Las


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The Shangri-Las were an American pop music girl group of the 1960s.

The group was formed at Andrew Jackson High School in Queens, New York, in 1963. It consisted of two sets of sisters: Mary Weiss (lead singer) and Elizabeth “Liz/Betty” Weiss, and identical twins Marguerite “Marge” and Mary Ann Ganser.

In April of 1964, since the girls were still minors, their parents signed for them with Red Bird Records; Mary was 15, Betty was 17, and the Ganser twins were 16. That same year, they had their first hit, “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” (US #5, UK #14), after being hired by the producer George “Shadow” Morton. Their songs for Morton featured lavish production with heavy orchestration and sound effects; their biggest hit, the renowned death disc “Leader of the Pack” (US #1, UK #11), climaxes with the sounds of roaring motorcycles and breaking glass.
According to a Biography episode on various 1960s Brill Building pop 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. Disbelieving Morton was really the songwriter he claimed to be, Barry challenged Morton to prove his legitimacy and bring in samples of his recent work (expecting never to hear again from an embarrassed Morton). Morton stated in his interview that, with an empty song portfolio at the time, he felt sufficiently challenged by Barry, whereupon he left the Brill Building and drove his automobile to a Long Island Beach.


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