Mary Weiss, Shangri-Las Lead Singer, Passes Away at 75

The music world is in mourning. Mary Weiss, the unmistakable voice behind the Shangri-Las, has passed away. Her death was confirmed by Miriam Linna of Norton Records, where Weiss’ solo work found a home. Her album “Dangerous Game” dropped in 2007, a real gem for fans.

Linna, speaking to Rolling Stone, couldn’t hide her admiration. “Mary was an icon, a hero, a heroine,” she said, her words tinged with reverence for the singer who transcended generational divides. Yet, the details of Weiss’ passing remain a mystery; no cause of death has been shared. She was 75.

Born in the hustle of Queens, New York, Mary Weiss was a force from the start. Alongside her sister Betty and the Ganser twins, Mary Ann and Margie, she formed a vocal quartet in the halls of their high school. Talent shows, teen hops, they did it all. But nightclubs? That’s where the real magic happened. Artie Ripp, a record exec, spotted their spark in ’63 and the rest, as they say, is history. The Shangri-Las were born.

Barely 16, and Weiss was already hitting the Top 5 on the Billboard charts. “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” was just the beginning. The Shangri-Las didn’t just ride the wave; they owned it, belting out hit after hit. Yet, they only released two albums. Just two. “Leader of the Pack” and “Shangri-Las-65!” both burst onto the scene in ’65, a testament to their impact.

But the Shangri-Las weren’t your cookie-cutter girl group, oh no. They delved into the gritty – suburban ennui, lost innocence, the stark reality of death. Take “Leader of the Pack,” their chart-topping hit. It wasn’t just a song; it was a narrative, a slice of life that ended in tragedy, and it resonated. Even Scorsese couldn’t resist; he weaved it into “Goodfellas,” cementing its place in pop culture.

Weiss once said, in a moment of reflection back in 2001, that pain fueled her performances. “I had enough pain in me at the time to pull off anything,” she admitted. The studio was her sanctuary, a place to unleash her emotions without the weight of prying eyes. And you can hear it, that raw emotion, in every note she ever sang.

Noah Mitchell
Noah Mitchell
Noah Mitchell is a senior music writer at Noah has been passionately covering the music industry for over five years, with a particular focus on live performances and the latest updates on artists.