Enigmatic producer who co-wrote Leader of the Pack for The Shangri-Las
George Francis Morton (Shadow Morton), record producer: born Brooklyn, New York 3 September 1940; married (3 children); died Laguna Beach, California 14 February 2013.
From The Independent 21st February 2013
Shadow Morton’s career was one of smoke and mirrors and it is difficult to gauge how important he was or precisely what he did. He described himself as a key figure in the record industry, saying, “I don’t just consider myself a good producer. I’m one of the best,” but he was no singer, no musician and possibly not much of a producer either. Undoubtedly, though, he was at least the inspiration for several unique records from the New York girl group The Shangri-Las.
George Morton was born in Brooklyn in 1941, but when there were indications that their son might turn out to be a hoodlum, his parents moved to Hicksville, Long Island. Morton said that many other parents had the same idea – and he joined a group of hooligans, the Red Devils. At school, he befriended a doo-wop group, The Marquees – but he preferred jazz, loving both Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Quartet.
In 1964 he was selling ice cream in Philadelphia when he learnt that a former school friend, Ellie Greenwich, was a hit songwriter in the BrillBuilding, working in partnership with her husband, Jeff Barry. He went to see them and Barry asked him what he did. “I’m lazy like you,” he said. “I just write songs.” “What kind of songs?” asked Barry. “Hit songs,” he replied. “Let me hear one,” said Barry. “Do you want it fast or slow?” was the reply.
Barry thought he was bluffing, but Morton determined to write and produce a slow hit song over the weekend. He booked the studio that The Marquees had used and asked a friend to round up some cheap musicians. He knew of a girl group from Queens who sang cover versions, The Shangri-Las, and invited them to sing the new composition.