I don’t know why, but I always thought Lesley Gore was British. I suppose it’s because everyone else back then was – or seemed to be.
But, she wasn’t. Lesley Sue Goldstein was born in Brooklyn, NY on May 2, 1946. At the age of 16, she recorded her fist hit, “It’s My Party.” It was quickly followed by several others, such as “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” and “You Don’t Own Me.”
There was a lot about Lesley Gore I didn’t know. All her songs were recorded before she was 18.
Really, not one single hit after that!
But, she wasn’t idle.
She worked as an actress, composed songs along with her brother, Michael, and was nominated for an Academy Award for her the music from the film Fame.
Yeah, missed that one completely!
Her first hit, “It’s My Party” was actually a cover of the same song previously recorded by the Chiffons.
It went nowhere until Lesley recorded it along with Quincy Jones.
It was after this hit that fans started showing UP in her front yard.
Daddy was not pleased.
After high school, continuing to make professional appearances, Lesley attended Sarah Lawrence College where she studied British and American English Lit.
As a pop singer, she was not a hit at SLC. Gore said, “…had I been tall with blonde hair, had I been Mary Travers, I would have gotten along fine.”
Apparently, pop music wasn’t cool enough. She graduated in 1968.
Gore worked continuously, but stopped recording in 1976. She went back into the studio again in 2005 and recorded Ever Since. The reviews were good, but by then, the voice of teenage angst had changed.
In 2004 she hosted the PBS TV series In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues. In an interview that same year she stated she had been in a relationship with luxury jewelry designer, Lois Sasson since 1982, and that even though the music business was “totally homophobic,” she never felt she had to pretend she was straight, stating “I just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do. I didn’t avoid anything.”
She died in 2015 from lung cancer while working on her memoir.
The New York Times obituary said, “…Lesley Gore made herself the voice of teenage girls aggrieved by fickle boyfriends, moving quickly from tearful self-pity to fierce self- assertion.”
That like her hit “You Don’t Own Me,” about sums it UP.