“He’s Good Bad, But He Ain’t Evil”
One of my favorite outdoor summer concerts was seeing the Shangri-Las at City Hall in NYC, June, 19, 2004.
There was only one remaining member, Mary Weiss, and her daughter and it was still a dynamic show.
Even though the Shangri-Las were before my time, I was no stranger to their music because every band I loved covered their hits. Aerosmith recorded “(Remember) Walking in the Sand” for their “Night in the Ruts” album; I had a bootleg Blondie album of them doing “Out in the Streets”; and Johnny Thunders not only performed their hit “Great Big Kiss” every time I saw him live, he sometimes wore a Shangri-Las t-shirt. “Great Big Kiss” is featured on Thunders’s best solo album, “So Alone” and the lyrics are slightly changed to suit his bad boy image, as opposed to the Shangri-Las bad girl image.
Johnny Thunders also covered their hit “He Cried” w/Patti Palladin.
But I think the Shangri-Las are most known for their hit, “Leader of the Pack.”
The girls formed their group while still in high school in the 1960s.
On that hot summer day when I saw them at City Hall, they did all their hits, plus some Ronettes songs, “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Be My Baby.” They also did “Locomotion” and other oldies.
The short set was only 40 minutes, but then they went over to J&R Music to sign autographs. The line was pretty short, so I bought a CD and met Mary Weiss and the other ladies for the fun of it.
Shangri-La member Mary Ann Ganser died on March 14, 1970. Reports of cause of death varied: encephalitis, a seizure disorder or barbituartes.
Shangri-La member Marge Ganser died of breast cancer July 28, 1996.
Many artists continue to pay tribute to the Shangri-Las covering their songs.
Long Live the Shangri-Las!