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Producer and Songwriter Shadow Morton Dead at 71

Wrote 'Leader of the Pack' and 'Remember (Walking in the Sand)' for the Shangri-Las

February 16, 2013 11:37 AM ET
Shadow Morton, Obit, George Morton, We are the music, shangri-la, leader of the pack, dead, passed away, 60s, 70s
Producer Shadow Morton attends 'We Are The Music: The Music Business of the '60s and '70s Reunites' at Sambuca Restaurant on June 25th, 2008 in New York City.
Bobby Bank/WireImage

George "Shadow" Morton, the songwriter and producer behind the Shangri-Las' hits "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" and "Leader of the Pack," died on Thursday at the age of 71, the New York Times reports. A family friend said the cause was cancer.

Morton was born in Brooklyn in 1941 and spent his teenage years on Long Island, where he sang with a doo-wop group in high school. He wrote his first song, "Remember," in a frantic attempt to talk his way into a job at the Brill Building, pulling together a girl group from Queens, seagull sound effects, and (rumor has it) a young Billy Joel. The song went on to reach Number Five on the Billboard singles chart in 1964 and the Shangri-Las became mainstays of the period's teen-angst girl groups. Without ever learning to play an instrument or read music, Morton wrote several more hits for the Shangri-Las, including "Leader of the Pack" (written with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry), "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" and "I Can Never Go Home Anymore."

500 Greatest Songs of All Time: The Shangri-Las, 'Leader of the Pack'

Morton became the chief producer of Red Bird, the record label run by Brill Building legends Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. He went on to produce a diverse list of records, including Janis Ian's "Society's Child," Vanilla Fudge's "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Via." Morton eventually left the music industry and started a second career as a designer of golf clubs, but he never stopped writing songs. A family friend said that by the time he died, he had written more than 300, though most were not recorded. 

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