Shadow Morton; wrote Shangri-Las’ hits ‘Leader of the Pack,’ ‘Remember’

NEW YORK — Shadow Morton, a songwriter and producer who for a period in the 1960s poured the discontent of adolescence into original hit songs, including ‘‘Leader of the Pack’’ and ‘‘Remember (Walking in the Sand),’’ died Thursday in Laguna Beach, Calif. He was 71.

The cause was cancer, said Amy Krakow, a family friend.


By all accounts possessed of a brazen, naive genius — he played no instrument and could not read music — Mr. Morton was almost single-handedly responsible for the wild success of the Shangri-Las, a girl group he introduced and propelled to global stardom.

The group had its first hit in 1964 with ‘‘Remember,’’ recorded more or less on a dare in a session frantically pulled together by Mr. Morton, who had never written a song before.

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The result was released on the Red Bird label and reached No. 5 on the Billboard chart.

The song was followed later that year by ‘‘Leader of the Pack,’’ written with Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry.

The song, which reached No. 1, has been covered by artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Twisted Sister, and Alvin and the Chipmunks; it remains ­omnipresent in movies and on television.

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