|George 'Shadow' Morton (September 3, 1940 – February 14, 2013) is an American record producer and songwriter best known for his influential work in the 1960s and the introduction of girl group The Shangri-Las to the pop music world.|
|Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, and then Hicksville, Long Island, he formed a doo-wop group, the Marquees, at school. He became friendly with Ellie Greenwich, and did drop-in visits to her and her writing partner (later husband) Jeff Barry when they were working at New York songwriters' 'Mecca', the Brill Building.|
According to a Biography episode on various 1960s Brill Building pop songwriters, including retrospective interviews with Greenwich, Barry and Morton among others, Barry said that at the time he was suspicious of Morton's overt attention to Greenwich. Disbelieving Morton was really the songwriter he claimed to be, Barry challenged Morton face-to-face to prove his legitimacy and bring in samples of his recent work (expecting never to hear again from an embarrassed Morton). Morton stated in his interview that, with an empty song portfolio at the time, he felt sufficiently challenged by Barry, whereupon he left the Brill Building and angrily drove his Buick to a Long Island beach that night, and, full of inspiration and desperation, spent the evening writing his first song while sitting in the dark in his parked car. Entitled "Remember (Walking In The Sand)", Morton then 'rolled the dice' and recorded a demo of his song with a long-shot, unknown girl group local club act that he admired, The Shangri-Las (according to Morton, with the then-unknown Billy Joel on piano in the demo recording), and offered the demo recording to established industry guru Jerry Leiber who was then setting up Red Bird Records. The recording "Remember (Walking In The Sand)" by The Shangri-Las reached #3 on the US pop charts in 1964, and was a worldwide teen recording hit that launched The Shangri-Las as a chart-topping recording group. Considering the scope of this accomplishment, Morton was transformed overnight from a credential-less industry 'wannabe' into a teen recording songwriter and recording producer sensation—a pop recording industry 'wunderkind'—one of pop recording industry's often-told, long-odds 'success stories'.
Morton signed as a staff producer for Red Bird, and was nicknamed "Shadow" by George Goldner because his whereabouts could never be pinned down. He was a key architect in creating the girl group sound of the mid-1960s, by continuing to write and produce hit teen melodramas for the Shangri-Las, including "Leader of the Pack", "I Can Never Go Home Anymore", and "Give Him A Great Big Kiss". These juxtaposed teen lyrics against a mixture of pop and R&B, with sound effects and inventive percussion.
In 1967, his successes continued after the collapse of Red Bird when his production of Janis Ian's "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)" finally became a hit record. The same year, he discovered a group called The Pidgeons, who became Vanilla Fudge, and produced their first three albums, which included their hit containing "You Keep Me Hangin' On," followed by a disastrous foray into docu-opera called "The Beat Goes On." "The Beat Goes On" was largely Morton's idea. and while the band recovered to make a successful third album ("Renaissance") with Morton, the stress contributed to the band's breakup. In the 1970s he worked with Iron Butterfly, and even though the group gave an interview to Mix Magazine crediting Morton with producing the hit track "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" that information is not widely known. He also worked with The New York Dolls, producing their second album Too Much Too Soon. Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders would later cover his composition "Great Big Kiss" on his 1979 solo album So Alone. In 1972, Shadow produced the Boston comedy band Gross National Productions' album P-Flaps and Low Blows. He was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (www.limusichalloffame.org) on Oct 15, 2006.
Below is a fantastic picture set of George "Shadow" Morton at Mira Sound Studios, NYC during a Janis Ian session with Dave Van Ronk and Richie Havens, circa 1966, when they recorded "Grape Masher With Dirty Feet". -Foundational text courtesy of Janis Ian and Wikipedia. Photos courtesy of George Schowerer.
Post Shangri-Las productions, George 'Shadow' Morton also produced Janis Ian and the New York Dolls. Photograph courtesy of the Michael Ochs Archives. circa 1965
Do you have content or pictures, to add, of George "Shadow" Morton? Do you just want to say "Hello!"? Please feel free to Share it, here!
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
This is my Dad
Outside of music, he produced 3 daughters with his best friend Lois, who he met @ 14 & even after marriage & divorce, spent his whole life in a beautiful …
George "Shadow" Morton
I met george when I was 13, he was 15. George was hanging out the basement window with Artie and Marty and I walked by. He called me over and that is …
Shadow Morton - Morton George connection??? Not rated yet
Did "Shadow" Morton possibly record as "Morton George" on Amy 858 - Come On In / The Stretch? (A wild and crazy record) Just wondering if there's a connection. …
Jwestburgh@verizon.net Not rated yet
George and I were best friends. I was twelve when I met him and we were very close. I hung around with him and all the guys Marty Artie and joe and sal. …
Return from George "Shadow" Morton to Recording Engineers, Producers and Associated Recording Industry Professionals