Mary Weiss, lead singer with ‘60s girl group the Shangri-Las, died on Jan. 19 at the age of 75.

Confirming the singer's death, Miriam Linna of Weiss' label Norton Records said: "Mary was an icon, a hero, a heroine, to both young men and women of my generation and of all generations."

Formed in 1963, the quartet is remembered for their first Top 5 single, "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" and its follow-up, the classic death disc "Leader of the Pack," both released in 1964.

Although they split in 1968 – with two brief reunions in 1977 and 1989 – the Shangri-Las influenced a wide range of musicians, notably in the American punk scene. In addition, Twisted Sister covered "Leader of the Pack" in 1985, and Weiss provided backing vocals for Aerosmith's cover of "Remember" in 1979.

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"My father died right after I was born, and my mother didn't do much of anything," Weiss told New York magazine in 2007. "I had a fairly rotten childhood. ... I was supporting myself from the time I was 14."

Watch the Shangri-Las' 'Leader of the Pack' Video

Despite that, she rejected the suggestion that the Shangri-Las were a "hardened" group of personalities. "I've heard we were tough, and I just find that so hilarious," she explained. "If you really look at the old tapes, I don't think that word would even come up.

"I saw a clip recently. ... How do you get 'tough' out of that? It makes me laugh. People liked to put people in boxes back then, especially the girls. Maybe it was the boots."

Listen to Aerosmith's Cover of 'Remember (Walking in the Sand)'

Weiss quit the music industry after the group descended into litigation. "My mother kind of signed my life away when I was 14," she said. "I'm laughing – 30 years of litigation."

There's a storeroom of litigation up to the ceiling. ... That's one of the reasons I walked away. The litigation was much thicker than the music. I couldn't go near another record label for ten years."

Mary Weiss Returned to Music to Have Fun

She staged a comeback in 2007 with the album Dangerous Game. "I just want to have fun now. And I'm going to," she stated. "People can take advantage of you in your youth. And they're not going to do it again. There are benefits to being a grown-up."

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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