Mary Weiss at Primavera Sound in 2008
December 28, 1948 |
Jamaica, Queens, New York, United States
|Years active||1964–69, 1989 (as lead singer of the Shangri-Las); 2006–present (as a solo artist)|
|Associated acts||The Shangri-Las|
Mary Weiss (born December 28, 1948) is an American pop music vocalist, best known as the lead singer of The Shangri-Las in the 1960s. She then vanished from the music scene for decades, returning in 2007 to record her first solo album with Norton Records.
Growing up in Queens, Weiss, her older sister Elizabeth (known as Betty) and her older brother George lived in Cambria Heights. She sang in school plays and church choirs. Additionally, she listened to her brother and his friends perform popular songs of the day; George being an Elvis Presley fan. Mary appreciated such performers as Neil Sedaka and the Everly Brothers; she attended her first concert of the Everly Brothers in 1963 at the age of 14.
After Mary and her sister Betty became good friends with twins Mary Ann and Margie Ganser in grammar school, the four of them sang at local dances and hops. That brought them to the attention of local producer Artie Ripp, who later signed them on to Kama Sutra Productions. After recording demos and making it to the Brill Building in 1964 (and signing with Red Bird Records), they recorded songs: "Remember (Walking in the Sand)", which was their first hit, and "Leader of the Pack", which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1964.
With their growing popularity, the Shangri-Las became a leading girl group in the 1960s. After several years of the grind, they split in 1968 and went their separate ways. Mary went to San Francisco to try a different lifestyle. She later came back to New York and occasionally gave shows with the Shangri-Las during the 1970s which led to a comeback attempt with Sire Records in 1977. In 1989, the Shangri-Las reunited one last time for Cousin Brucie's Palisades Park Reunion show at The Meadowlands in New Jersey.
Mary took a job as purchasing agent in New York City in Manhattan, as she recalled, "I went to work for an architectural firm, and I was seriously into it. Then I got into commercial interiors, huge projects, buildings."
In 2005, Mary left her job in Commercial Interiors to get back to music. In March 2007, Norton Records released Dangerous Game, a critically acclaimed  solo album, on which she is backed by The Reigning Sound. She has been performing in the United States, Spain and France and is working on a new album.