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May 10, 2023

Vintage Photographs of All Girl Group The Shangri-Las in the 1960s

The Shangri-Las were an American girl group of the 1960s, consisting of Mary Weiss, Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss, Marguerite “Marge” Ganser, and Mary Ann Ganser. Between 1964 and 1966 several hit pop songs of theirs documented teen tragedies and melodramas. They continue to be known for their hits “Remember (Walking in the Sand)”, “Give Him a Great Big Kiss”, and in particular, “Leader of the Pack” which went to #1 in the US in late 1964.

The group was formed at Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights, a neighborhood in Queens, New York City, in 1963. The group was two pairs of sisters: Mary Weiss (lead singer) (born December 28, 1948) and Elizabeth “Betty” Weiss (born November 27, 1946), and identical twins Marguerite “Marge”/“Margie” Ganser (February 4, 1948 – July 28, 1996) and Mary Ann Ganser (February 4, 1948 – March 14, 1970).

They began playing school shows, talent shows, and teen hops; Artie Ripp heard about them and 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, Washington label.

Initially the girls performed without a name for their group; however when they signed their first deal, they began calling themselves the Shangri-Las, after a restaurant in Queens. 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” (the LP version), “Shout”, “Twist and Shout”, “Wishing Well”, and a number of B-sides and album tracks. Mary Ann Ganser took lead on most of “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!.

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