Anyone with more than a passing interest in googling the Shangri-Las will soon notice there is some disagreement over the cause and date of Mary Ann Ganser’s death. The majority of sites, if they mention it at all, say she died in 1971 of encephalitis contracted from a mosquito bite. Then there are the very few which attribute her death to drug abuse in 1970 . Clearly, somebody has to be wrong. While it would be easy to assume the majority is correct, that's not what I've discovered. The conclusions I come to are at odds with the majority of sites, apparently because those sites didn't expend much effort on verification. The information is out there and, though it takes a little persistence to find it, the search doesn't involve rocket science.
John Greco's Out In the
Streets2, Phil X. Milstein’s Shangri-Las 77!3
(see footnote 4 in the Shangri-Las 77! article), and The Dead
Club4 all place Mary Ann's death in 1970. Most sites
claim the cause of death was encephalitis, contracted from a mosquito
77! and The Dead Rock Stars Club state the cause was complications
from an overdose of
barbiturates. The sites at odds with this are too numerous to mention.
There is a 2001 thread in Google Answers archives (and a 2003 follow up from the same poster), a careful reading of which will uncover the following: The poster said he managed to contact the Gansers’ mother, and “….she was very gracious & sent me Mary Ann's death papers and answered all my questions. Both twins were born Feb.4, 1948. Mary Ann died March 14,1970. When I mentioned a mosquito bite, she was taken aback. She said her daughter died of a barbiturate overdose. Her death papers confirmed she had battled heroin addiction for 2 yrs” 5. Mary Ann wouldn’t be the first entertainer to succumb to the lure of a good high. Unfortunately she wound up playing the central role in a real-life tragedy, the needless death of a talented young woman.
1. The Shangri-Las You’ll find a time line outlining when the various members were absent, a brief history, photos, lyrics, and some good links.
2. John Greco's Out In the Streets Red Bird bio, as comprehensive a biography as you’re likely to find.
3. Phil X. Milstein's
Interested in learning more about the Shangri-Las? In addition to the above sources:
- visit Spectropop’s forum archives at http://www.spectropop.com/ .
see Mick Patrick’s liner notes for the Myrmidons
of Melodrama CD. The liner notes alone are worth the price.