Along with the Shirelles and the Ronettes, the Shangri-Las were among the greatest girl groups; if judged solely on the basis of attitude, they were the greatest of them all. They combined an innocent adolescent charm with more than a hint of darkness, singing about dead bikers, teenage runaways, and doomed love affairs as well as ebullient high-school crushes. These could be delivered with either infectious, handclapping harmonies or melodramatic, almost operatic recitatives that were contrived but utterly effective. Tying it all together in the studio was Shadow Morton, a mad genius of a producer who may have been second in eccentric imagination only to Phil Spector in the mid-'60s.
Originally the Shangri-Las were comprised of two pairs of sisters from Queens, NY (identical twins Marge and Mary Anne Ganser and siblings Mary and Betty Weiss). They had already recorded a couple of obscure singles when they were hired by George "Shadow" Morton to demo a song he had recently written, "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)." The haunting ballad, with its doomy "Moonlight Sonata"-like piano riffs, wailing lead vocal, and thunderous background harmonies, seguing into an a cappella chorus backed by nothing except handclaps and seagull cries, made the Top Five in late 1964. It also began their association with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's Red Bird label, which would handle the group for the bulk of their career.
The Shangri-Las were an American pop girl group of the 1960s. Between 1964 and 1966 they charted with often heartbreaking teen melodramas, and remain perhaps best known for their hits "Leader of the Pack" and "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)".
The group was formed at Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights, a part of Queens in New York in 1963. They consisted of two sets of sisters: Mary Weiss (lead singer) (born 1948) and Elizabeth "Betty" Weiss (born 1946), and identical twins Marguerite "Marge" (1947-1996) and Mary Ann Ganser (1947-1970).The girls often appeared as a trio, Betty Weiss rarely on stage until late 1965, preferring to avoid touring.
They began playing school shows, talent shows and teen hops, coming to the attention of Artie Ripp, who arranged the group's first record deal with Kama Sutra. Their first recording in December 1963 was "Simon Says", later issued on the Smash label, on which Betty Weiss sang lead. They also recorded "Wishing Well" / "Hate To Say I Told You So", which became their first release in early 1964 when leased to the small Spokane label.
Initially, the girls performed without a name. But when they signed their first deal, they began calling themselves the Shangri-Las, after a Queens restaurant.
Some discographies list The Beatle-ettes and The Bon Bons, who both issued singles in 1964, as early versions of The Shangri-Las. However, they are different groups.
Mary Weiss was the main lead singer, Betty however took lead on "Maybe", and a number of B-sides and album tracks. One of The Ganser Twins took lead on "I'm Blue", which is a cover of the Ikettes biggest hit at the time, and was included on their 1965 album "Shangri-Las 65!". And one of the twins takes the lead on "Sophisticated Boom Boom" b-side of "Long Live Our Love".
I met him at the candy store
He turned around and smiled at me - you get the picture
That's when I fell for - the leader of the pack
My folks were always putting him down
They said he came from the wrong side of town
They told me he was bad
But I knew he was sad
That's why I fell for - the leader of the pack.
One day my dad said "find someone new"
I had to tell my Jim we were through
He stood there and asked me why
But all I could do was cry
I'm sorry I hurt you - the leader of the pack.
He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
The tears were beginning to show
And as he left me on that rainy night
I begged him to go slow
But whether he heard, I'll never know
I felt so helpless - what could I do?
Remembering all the things we'd been through
At school they all stop and stare
I can't hide the tears, but I don't care
I'll never forget you - the leader of the pack.
The leader of the pack - now he's gone
The leader of the pack - now he's gone
The leader of the pack - now he's gone.