George “Shadow” Morton, a New York-based producer and songwriter best known for his work with 1960s girl group the Shangri-Las, has died at 73, according to reports. The cause of death was unknown at press time.
Morton was born in Virginia and raised in Brooklyn and then Hicksville, Long Island where he began his music career singing in a doo-wop group called the Marquees. According to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame website, Morton got his start in songwriting and production through his childhood friend and Brill Building songwriter Ellie Greenwich. “He pulled together a young girl group from Astoria, some local musicians (including a young Billy Joel) and a basement studio in Bethpage. Morton created "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" and presented it to Greenwich's employers [legendary production-songwriting team] Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, who loved the track and sent Morton into the studio to record the song, and the Shangri-Las were born."
Morton became chief producer of Lieber and Stoller’s Red Bird label and worked on other mid-60s hits for the Shangri-Las including "I Can Never Go Home Anymore" and their best known song “Leader of the Pack.”
He produced a diverse slate of artists, including: Janice Ian (“Society Child”), heavier rock bands Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly, (including the latter’s epic hit "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida") and early New York punk-glam rock band The New York Dolls (1974's “Too Much Too Soon”).
On Friday, Janis Ian wrote the following tribute on her Facebook page: "Shadow Morton, who produced 'Society's Child,' 'Leader of the Pack' and other seminal records, is gone. A sad start to the day."
In 2006 Morton was inducted into Long Island Music Hall of Fame.