Morton, who died Feb. 14 from cancer at 72, wrote and produced Rock ‘n’ Roll Pantheon group The Shangri-Las’ 1964 breakthrough hit “Remember (Walking In The Sand),” then followed it with more Shangs’ classics including "I Can Never Go Home Anymore,” "Give Him A Great Big Kiss” and the immortal “Leader Of The Pack”—all with Spector-comparable productions that still stood out as his own.
Other high points included his monumental production of Janis Ian’s landmark 1967 hit “Society’s Child,” now a Grammy Hall of Fame recording. He also discovered and produced Vanilla Fudge, and their huge psychedelic hit cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” not to mention Iron Butterfly’s monster hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (though he didn’t receive credit), and in 1974, produced the New York Dolls’ second album Too Much Too Soon.
“He was one of the greatest!” enthuses rock ‘n’ roll authority Rockin’ John McDonald, legendary Saturday night air personality on Madison, Wis. listener-sponsored radio station WORT-FM. "Anyone who produces The Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge has it together!”
Notes artist-producer Andy Paley, who has worked with everyone from Phil Spector to Brian Wilson: “He made some of the most dramatic records of the early ‘60s. As an AM radio addict back then in upstate New York, I remember hearing Shangri-Las records and having my mind blown.”
But Janis Ian, who was a young teen when she recorded “Society’s Child,” remembers Morton from a personal perspective.
“Shadow trusted my instincts the moment he heard me sing,” she says. “He sent me into my first session with New York's 'A-list' musicians when I was barely 15. His only instructions as he walked away were 'Go tell 'em what you want 'em to play, kid.' He backed me to the hilt when no one else would; he gave 'Society's Child' its title, and he treated me like an artist, not a little girl.”
"To say I will miss him fiercely is a terrible understatement," concludes Ian.
Subscribe to my examiner.com pages and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman!