The Shangri-Las Biography

Late entrants in the early 60s school of ‘girl groups’, the Shangri-Las comprised two pairs of sisters, Mary-Ann and Margie Ganser (d. 28 July 1996) and Betty and Mary Weiss. During 1963 they were discovered by Shadow Morton and recorded two singles under the name Bon Bons before signing to the newly formed Red Bird Records. Relaunched as the Shangri-Las, they secured a worldwide hit with ‘Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand)’, a delightful arrangement complete with the sound of crashing waves and crying seagulls. It was the sound-effect of a revving motorbike engine which opened their distinctive follow-up, ‘Leader Of The Pack’, which was even more successful and a prime candidate for the ‘death disc’ genre with its narrative of teenage love cut short because of a motorcycle accident. By 1966, Margie Ganser had left the group, although this had little effect on their popularity or output. They had already found a perfect niche, specializing in the doomed romanticism of American teenage life and unfolding a landscape filled with misunderstood adolescents, rebel boyfriends, disapproving parents, the foreboding threat of pregnancy and, inevitably, tragic death. This hit formula occasionally wore thin but Shadow Morton could always be relied upon to engineer a gripping production. During their closing hit phase in 1966/7, the group recorded two songs, ‘I Can Never Go Home Anymore’ and ‘Past Present And Future’, which saw the old teenage angst transmogrified into an almost tragic, sexual neuroticism. The enduring commercial quality of their best work was underlined by consistent repackaging and the successive chart reappearances of the biker anthem, ‘Leader Of The Pack’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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