Lesley Gore

  • Singer and songwriter born Lesley Goldstein in 1946 in Brooklyn New York. Died in 2015 from lung cancer.
  • Gore showed vocal skills as a child, and while in high school, she had a vocal coach. She made some demo tapes with her coach, and one ended up with a record company that employed legendary producer Quincy Jones. In 1963, Jones and Gore chose It’s My Party to record from a pile of 200 demos, rushing it to release it when they learned that Phil Spector planned to produce the same song for The Crystals. It was done so quickly, they did not have time to find “a more pleasant” stage name for Gore.
  • It’s My Party quickly went to #1 on the Hot 100 chart, as well as the R&B chart. Gore was 16 years old, and suddenly she was a sensation. Given the success of the song, she quickly recorded 11 more songs and released her debut album, I’ll Cry If I Want To. Most of the songs are about crying – the follow-up single to It’s My Party was the sequel song Judy’s Turn To Cry, which went to #5 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • Her second album, released in late 1963, produced 2 more top 10 singles – She’s a Fool peaked at #5 and You Don’t Own Me made it to #2. Both produced by Jones, You Don’t Own Me was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016. The song might have made it to #1, but it was unable to overcome I Want To Hold Your Hand by the Beatles.
  • Jones continued to produce for Gore through 1965, with several top 20 hits – That’s The Way Boys Are, Maybe I Know, and Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. She would only see the top 40 once more after Jones moved on to other projects – California Nights reached #16 in 1967. Part of the success of California Nights was due to her lip-synced performance of it in an episode of the TV show Batman – she appeared in 2 episodes (as “Pussycat,” one of Catwoman’s bad guys), and also in the beach party film The Girls on the Beach. 
  • By 1968, Gore’s popularity was waning. Albums released in the 70s and 80s were not popular. Her last album, Ever Since, released in 2005, was critically acclaimed by Rolling Stone, The New York Times and Billboard, and 3 songs from the album were used in TV shows or films. It includes a new version of You Don’t Own Me which critics praised.
  • Gore enjoyed success as a songwriter – she co-wrote songs for the 1980 film Fame, receiving an Academy-award nomination for the song Out Here On My Own. In 2004, she guest-hosted the PBS television series In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues.
  • It’s My Party is an anthem of teenage heartbreak that continues to be relevant today – though today’s teenagers have social media to express their angst, not pop radio. Here is 17 year old Lesley singing her #1 hit on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1963 – unfortunately, only a section of the whole performance, but cool to see her as a youngster on the biggest stage in entertainment at that time.

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