The most prominent purveyors of teen melodrama in the Girl Group genre, the Queens, N.Y.-bred Shangri-Las specialized in songs of heartbreak and tragedy, vividly conveyed by impassioned lead singer Mary Weiss, the cinematic production of Shadow Morton, and emotion-packed songs penned by Morton and such Brill Building pros as Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich.
The Shangri-Las — originally two sets of sisters, Mary and her sibling Betty, and twins Marge and Mary Ann Ganser — established their trademark mix of adolescent innocence and haunted fatalism with their first two hits, "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)" and "Leader of the Pack," both released in 1964. The group maintained that level of drama on such bittersweet followups as "Out in the Street," "The Train from Kansas City" and "I Can Never Go Home Anymore," but was equally adept at delivering upbeat tunes like "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" and "Heaven Only Knows."
The group disbanded in 1968. They briefly reunited in 1977, resulting in some new demo recordings and an impromptu live set at the New York City club CBGB, and they performed again in a 1989 oldies show at New Jersey's Meadowlands Arena. But the group otherwise resisted offers to re-form, even as a bogus Shangri-Las began performing on the oldies circuit. Mary Weiss, who had largely avoided the spotlight after the group’s breakup, surprised observers by returning to the stage and releasing a garage-rock-flavored solo album, Dangerous Game, on the Norton label in 2007.