Mary Weiss, lead singer of the Shangri-Las, dies age 75

Mary Weiss, the lead singer of 1960’s pop group the Shangri-Las, has died at the age of 75, her record label said.

The US girl group rose to stardom with a run of hit songs about teenage love and tragedy, including Remember (Walking In The Sand) and Leader Of The Pack – which was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Weiss took centre stage of the sound and look of the Shangri-Las, helping to pioneer the girl group era alongside the Ronettes.

Music – The Shangri-Las – London
US girl group the Shangri-Las get a view of London from the roof of an Oxford Street hotel. (l-r) Mary Weiss, Mary-Ann Gonser and Margie Gonser (PA)

On Friday, Miriam Linna of Norton Records confirmed Weiss’ death to the PA news agency.

“Mary was an icon, a hero, a heroine, to both young men and women of my generation and of all generations,” Linna said in a statement given to US outlets.

Meanwhile, the official Instagram for Ronnie Spector, who co-founded girl group the Ronettes and died in January 2022, shared a tribute following the news.

“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Mary Weiss’ passing. She and Ronnie were kindred spirits; two fearless bad girls of the 60s. Join us as we spin the Shangri-Las in her honour,” the statement said.

The group, known as the tough girls of the 60’s pop scene, was made up of two sets of sisters, Mary and Elizabeth Weiss, and twins Marguerite and Mary Ann Ganser, forming in the Queens borough of New York City.

After a string of hits including Give Him A Great Big Kiss and Out In The Streets, alongside opening for the Rolling Stones on their second 1964 US tour, Shangri-Las split up.

Weiss was absent from the music industry for many decades, before returning in 2007 to release her first solo record with Norton Records titled Dangerous Game, to critical acclaim.