Mary Weiss, leader of the New York sixties band Shangri-Las, has died at the age of 75.
Her death was confirmed to Rolling Stone on Friday by Miriam Linna of the Norton Records label, which released the singer's only solo album, Dangerous Game, in 2007. “Mary was an icon, a heroine, a heroine, both for my young men and my young women generation and all generations,” Linna said.
The Instagram account of Ronnie Spector, co-founder of girl group The Ronettes and who died in January 2022, paid tribute following the news of Weiss' death. “We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Mary Weiss,” reads the caption alongside a black-and-white photo of Weiss. “She and Ronnie were kindred spirits; two fearless bad girls from the 60s. Join us as we film the Shangri-Las in her honor.”
In a separate post, pop singer Sky Ferreira wrote: “Mary Weiss is forever an inspiration.”
The Shangri-Las represented the height of the early 1960s teen tragedy trend, with group members Weiss, Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, Marguerite “Marge” Ganser and Mary Ann Ganser punctuating their melodramas with the songs “Remember (Walking in the Sand )” documented )”, “Give Him a Great Big Kiss” and “Leader of the Pack” from 1964 – a title that became a number one hit that year. In 2021, Rolling Stone included the track at number 316 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
According to a 2007 interview with New York Magazine, the girl group then disbanded in 1968 for legal reasons. According to the publication, Weiss moved to San Francisco and eventually became a secretary in an architectural firm after landing in New York.
Her comeback came in 2007 after a chance meeting with Billy Miller, head of Brooklyn indie label Norton, which led to her final solo album. “I wanted to do a mix of new and old,” Weiss told NY Mag. “Why go into the studio to do old things? What's the point?”