Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, The Angels, The Shirelles, Rosie & The Originals, The Chiffons, The Crystals, The Shangri-Las, The Toys, and of course, The Supremes: Girl groups of all shapes, colors, and sizes ruled 60’s airwaves, giving way to a precursory movement of R&B female acts like TLC, Destiny’s Child, Allure, and the seeds for a secure future of female pop decades to come. In a male-dominated world of pop, rock and soul, girl groups found a secure home in 60’s Motown and rock ‘n’ roll. From currently well-known to obscure, these women created classics for an entire generation.
One chart success of its day is The Shangri-Las‘ “Leader of the Pack.” They were a white, female quartet–at times, a trio–destined to sweetly pepper rock ‘n’ roll with some sentimental tough girl tracks. It was a sister act comprised of the Weiss (Betty and Mary) sisters, and the Ganser (Marge and Mary Anne) sisters–all from Queens, New York and attendees of the same high school.
Lead by the twangy strong pipes of Mary Weiss, they were some of the original bad girls. Relative to today’s tolerant standards for female freedom of sexuality and lyrical frankness, these girls are almost saints, but in their time, these girls got under mainstream society’s skin. In the words of Evie Sands, “The rudest girls I ever met. Absolutely disgusting.” The comment, as dramatically vehement as it was, mirrored most supporters of the sweet-mannered status quo female. The La’s knew drama though. They were good at it. Filed under teen tragedy, their hits like “Maybe” and “Leader of the Pack” were unapologetic-ally melodramatic. Combining a trace of darkness with an angelic adolescent lure, their teen angst, talk narrations, and symbolic street style gave them an engaging alternative edge for chick rockers to be. They were the original bad girls.