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You Tube Gold: A 60s Classic

A great hit from a nearly forgotten great band

Shangri-Las Portrait Session
The Shangri-Las

One of the great under-appreciated bands of the 1960s was the Shangri-Las. An all-girls band as they said in the ‘60s, but they did start when they were still minors.

All from Queens, and seen as somewhat tough girls, though certainly not by today’s standards, the trio of Mary Weiss and identical twins Marguerite and Mary Ann Ganser had a string of hits in the ‘60s (Weiss’s sister Betty moved in and out of the group for a time).

They had a string of hits in the ‘60s, impressing people like James Brown, but their greatest, most enduring hit was “Leader of the Pack.”

You’ve probably heard it but to sum it up, the singer fell for a biker named Jimmy who wasn't bad but sad and then one day her dad said find someone new. So Jimmy had to go.

Quaint idea by modern standards but there it is.

So she dumped Jimmy and he immediately took off and died tragically on his bike.

This video of a live performance is pretty great not least of all because they actually had a guy ride a bike on stage and gun it periodically during the song which must have driven the sound crew out of their minds. He looks like they just went out and flagged down the first biker they could find and figured he’d be just fine.

He’s a good bit older than Weiss, which seems a bit odd and certainly wouldn’t fly today, and looks kind of bored with the whole business.

Which is to say it’s a great time capsule. It doesn’t hurt that they were great singers either.