The producer's most famous recordings were made with the Shangri-Las, a girl group made up of two pairs of sisters, Marguerite and Maryann Ganser, and Elizabeth and Mary Weiss.
You think Taylor Swift has boy problems? These Queens ladies' pursuit of bad boys ("good bad but not evil" as Mary Ann said on one of their hits - there were a lot of spoken word bits on their records) inevitably led to heartbreak or death. Morton captured the doom in elaborately produced two and three minute tragedies.
Their first hit, 1964's "Remember (Walkin' In the Sand)" finds the Shangri-Las brooding over their guy finding a new love. Seagulls squawk hysterically as the girls torment themselves with memories.
Morton's sound effects were used even more spectacularlly on their follow-up, the Number One "Leader of the Pack." The sounds of a revving motorcycle, screeching tires, and a fatal automobile collision punctuate this story of a doomed affair with a biker their parents hate.
Morton wrote those two hits, as well, along with the ballads "I Can Never Go Home Anymore" and "Past, Present and Future" which, while beautifully arranaged, are so emotionally devastating they're almost hard to listen to.
The Shangri-Las' last Top Forty hit "Long Live Our Love" has a bright, jaunty, parade music feel, which makes you think the girls have finally found contentment. Not so fast -in the second verse we learn their guy is being shipped out to Vietnam. We don't learn his fate, but if he's in a Shangri-Las record his chances don't look good.
Shadow Morton's other major contribution to rock history is producing the New York Dolls' 1974 In Too Much Too Soon, a protopunk classic thaat combines the groups' originals and covers of some of their favorite R&B tunes.
The Shangri-Las were favorites of the Dolls as well - they quoted their hit "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" on their debut. They weren't the only ones who were intrigued by the last great girl group records of the Sixties - courtesy of the imagination of Shadow Morton.