Mary Weiss at Primavera Sound 2008
December 28, 1948 |
Jamaica, Queens, New York, United States
|Years active||1964–1969, 1989, 2006–present|
|Associated acts||The Shangri-Las|
Mary Weiss, born on December 28, 1948 in Queens, New York, found fame in the 1960s as the lead singer of The Shangri-Las. 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, Mary, her older sister Elizabeth and her older brother George lived in Cambria Heights, where Mary sang in school plays and church choirs. She listened to her brother and his friends perform popular songs of the day; George was 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.
Early recordings 
After Mary, Betty, Mary Ann and Margie became good friends in grammar school, they 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 a concert in Palisades Park, New Jersey.
New career 
Mary took a job as purchasing agent 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."
Going solo 
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.