George "Shadow" Morton,
legendary Brill Building
songwriter and eccentric producer most famous for his work with '60s girl group The Shangri-Las,
has died from a long battle with cancer at his home in Laguna Beach, CA. When Morton met the Brill songwriting team of Ellie Greenwich
and Jeff Barry
in 1964, he claimed to be a songwriter; Barry, who thought Morton was only trying to impress his wife Ellie, dared him to play them a song. Shadow -- who had no songs -- spent all night in a darkened car at a Long Island beach and emerged with "(Remember) Walking in the Sand";
he recorded it with a local teen vocal group he admired called the Shangri-Las, and the rest was history. Morton followed the group's Top 5 hit with the deathless "Leader of the Pack"
and brought his highly dramatic production style to other hits like Janis Ian's
"Society's Child" and Vanilla Fudge's
first few albums. He also recorded Iron Butterfly's
reportedly telling the group the equipment was damaged and then surreptitiously recording their 17-minute "practice." Mark Ronson
cited Shadow's style as a major inspiration for his production of Amy Winehouse's
classic album Back to Black.
Morton was 71.