Warning: you may have no idea what I am talking about if you aren't of a certain age....
Let's get this straight: Grease should NEVER have been filmed in California. Talk about going against type....
As far as I am concerned Rydell High School and gang were from somewhere in Jersey, most likely some place like, or not far from, Elizabeth, my old town before we moved to Stony Point, NY. Was it supposed to be NY? Don't care. That gang was from Jersey.
Jersey had an aesthetic all it's own back then. And while it is not easy to put into words, it certainly conjures up vivid images and music for many of us who lived it. Maybe it was about teased hair. Or maybe it was about black leather and skinny black pants, pointy boot shoes, and button down collared shirts with the sleeves rolled up. It was certainly about hamburgers and Cokes. And in the summer it was all about The Shore. But suffice it to say that there could not be a show called JERSEY BOYS on Broadway if not for the particular kind of setting I am trying to explain. There's a reason that Frankie Valli of Four Seasons/Jersey Boys fame had a role in the Sopranos--which took place in good old Jersey.
All those cool groups from the early to mid sixties had New Jersey written all over them--even if they weren't really from Jersey. Maybe they were from Philly. Or maybe Detroit. Or maybe even NY. Didn't matter. They smelled like Jersey, in only the best way Jersey can smell.
Now, from that wonderful era --a return: the lead singer of the Shangri-Las. Ms. Mary Weiss has recorded an album for the first time in 40 years. Ms. Weiss , it turns out, was from Queens. That's enough like Jersey to qualify. Read all about her in an artice in today's NY Times.
One thing my memory was wrong on: I only remember three Shangi-Las, but I guess at one time there were four. Anyway, I just played Leader of the Pack last night on the jukebox. I love that I am reading about her today.
Now hear this: I want to know what happened to: Lesley Gore, The Flamingoes, the Orlons, Mary Wells, Dion and those Belmonts, the Tokens, the Dixie Cups and so on......
Here is a great site dedicated to the Shangri-Las.
For a great movie from 1983 that also captures the whole time and place make sure to watch "Baby It's You" starring Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano. This movie is one of those sleepers that so perfectly recreates the whole sense of the era I am more than a little nostalgic for today.
EDITED TO ADD: If you go on to Youtube and do a search for the Shangri-Las you will come up with some great old footage of those tough chicks performing.