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The Shangri-Las

The Shangri-Las were an American pop girl group in the 1960s. They were popular with their teen type heartbreak songs such as “Leader of the Pack” and “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)”. The girls came together in high school in New York City. They were two sets of sisters Mary Weiss lead singer, Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss and identical twins Marguerite “Marge” and Mary Ann Ganser. Their first recorded songs were in 1963 and included “Simon Says” and “Wishing Well”. They came out with an album in 1965 titled Shangri-Las 65!

Since the Shangri-Las were underage the girls’ parents signed with Red Bird Records. It’s interesting that since he was unknown at the time Bill Joel was a session musician and played on the demo “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)”. Next came one of their biggest hits “Leader of the Pack” which rose up to number one and offered something different roaring motorcycles and breaking glass.

Once the Shangri-Las gained popularity they performed with the Beatles, had a 1964 tour with the Rolling Stones, and performed with R&B artists like the Drifters and James Brown. Surprisingly Cashbox listed them as the best new R&B group but the girls were white. In 1965 they promoted Revlon cosmetics and took a tour of the U.K. with Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermits, Del Shannon, and others. The group became a trio in 1964 when Betty dropped out. Touring the U.S. they also appeared on TV shows such as “Hullabaloo”, “Shindig”, “Hollywood A-Go-Go, and “Lloyd Thaxton”.

Among the Shangri-Las U.S. hit singles are “Give Him a Great Big Kiss”, “Out in the Streets”, “Give Us Your Blessing”, and the top ten hit “I Can Never Go Home Anymore”. There were also songs such as “Long Live Our Love” dedicated to men fighting in Vietnam, “He Cried” and “Past, Present, and Future” which featured music from Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”

The group disbanded in 1968 and the girls went their separate ways. They were offered the chance to perform together in the 1970s but they declined the offer however they did do a few live performances.

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