Two pairs of New York sisters, The Shangri-Las formed in 1964 and created a series of brilliantly theatrical singles masterminded by madcap producer George ‘Shadow’ Morton.
Remember (Walking In The Sand), a teenage heartbreaker, made the top five and sold a million – as did the even more melodramatic Leader Of The Pack, a sure-fire #1 in the USA and a top 20 hit in Britain on three separate occasions.
The quality and imagination remained consistently high during the next two years, but only I Can Never Go Home Anymore – an unbearable tragedy in which a teenager’s parents are heartbroken by her leaving home – reinstated them in the top ten.
The Shangri-Las brought together all the best elements of the 1960s girl groups – the assertiveness, the female solidarity, the love of bad boys, the heightened emotion – in such style that after their peak in 1965, the genre effectively withered away.
By 1969, The Shangri-Las were so dispirited – and so tied up by legal wranglings among various mentors – that they decided to call it quits.
Following the split, Mary Weiss moved to San Francisco to hang out at the Fillmore and roller skate in the park. She did not pursue singing.
Mary Anne Ganser died in New York in 1971 of encephalitis, not a drug overdose, as is sometimes reported.
Mary Anne Ganser