Gore, Lesley

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Lesley Gore


For the Record

Selected discography


Lesley Gore, who will forever be identified with the memorable anthem of teenage angst, Its My Party, remains a performer and songwriter. She quietly tours the casino and resort circuit performing all her hits from the 1960s. She has also appeared in Smokey Joes Café on Broadway and gotten much more involved in work behind the scenes. Collaborating with her brother, Michael, with whom she penned some of her own hits in the 1960s, Gore continues to write songs. Together the team turned out a number of songs for the popular 1980 movie Fame, including Out Here on My Own, which garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Song.

Born on May 2, 1946, in Brooklyn, New York, Gore was the oldest child of parents Leo and Ronny. When she Was about five years old, the family left New York for the relative quiet of the New Jersey suburbs, settling in Tenafly. It was in this comfortable, middle-class setting that Lesley and her brother Michael grew up.

Both Gore children showed an interest in music at an early age. Even before she could read, Lesley had learned to identify the 45 rpm records of her favorite songs by the color of their labels. Impressed by their daughters obvious interest in music, Lesleys parents scraped together the extra money needed to send her to a professional vocal coach. Before long, Gores singing lessons gave her the self-confidence to take the stage and sing with her cousins band at professional engagements whenever she could. One such appearance at the Prince George Hotel proved particularly fortuitous. In the audience that night was Irving Green, president of Mercury Records. So impressed was Green with Gores singing voice that he quickly signed her to a contract. As the first order of business, Green had Lesley record a few demo tapes that he circulated among the creative types at Mercury. All agreed that Gore had the makings of a star.

When it came time to team Lesley up with a producer to work on her first recordings, Green had yet another stroke of genius. He put Lesley in the very capable hands of Quincy Jones, who was at that time A&R director for Mercury. The now-legendary music producer and Gore hit it off from the beginning. It proved to be an ideal creative marriage.

Despite the excellent vibes between Gore and her newfound mentor, finding the right vehicle to introduce Lesley to the record-buying public was anything but easy. Together the petite singer from New Jersey and Jones listened to more than 200 demo tapes in their search for just the right song. Finally, when they heard Its My Party, both knew instantly that this was the perfect song for Gore. But the adventure had just begun. On the evening of the late March day that Lesley recorded the song, Jones learned that rival producer Phil Spector had another version in the works for the Crystals. Jones pulled out all the stops, rushed

For the Record

Born on May 2, 1946, in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Leo and Ronny Gore.

Began formal vocal training, age 15; spotted by Irving Green, president of Mercury Records, during gig with cousins band, early 1960s; signed to contract and teamed with producer Quincy Jones, early 1960s; first single, Its My Party, reached number one on pop charts, 1963; followed up with Judys Turn to Cry, Shes a Fool, You Dont Own Me, Thats the Way Boys Are, and Maybe I Know, 1963-64; co-wrote songs for movie Fame, 1980; appeared on Broadway in Smokey Joes Café, 1999.

Addresses: Management John Regna, World Entertainment Associates, 297-101 Kinderkamack Rd., Oradell, NJ 07649, phone: (201) 265-8262, fax: (201) 265-0603.

the record to radio stations around the country, and beat Spector and the Crystals to the punch. Gore and her record label had a smash hit. Her success with Its My Party was quickly followed by Judys Turn to Cry, which revisits the central theme of the first song, but with an added twist of vengeance. Other big hits for Gore included You Dont Own Me, Maybe I Know, Shes a Fool, and Thats the Way Boys Are.

His successful management of Gores early career at Mercury helped to solidify Joness already substantial reputation within the music business. Gores early singles, including Its My Party, were exceptionally well produced. Orchestral arrangements by Claus Ogermann gave Gores records much more of a mainstream pop feel than some of the early rock sounds emerging in the early 1960s. Perhaps because the music one most closely identifies with Jones is a far cry from the somewhat petulant pop of Lesley Gore, many biographers have overlooked how important a role the Gore years played in the producers overall development.

In 1963, her first year at Mercury, Gore released two albumsIll Cry If I Want To and Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts. The following year saw two more albums from Gore, namely Boys, Boys, Boys and Girl Talk. This breakneck recording pace began to slow considerably after 1964, with only one album from Gore appearing each year from 1965 through 1969. The feverish demand for Gores sound cooled off considerably after her first couple of years in the market. Even a label switch in the late 1960s failed to reverse the decline. The albums Love, Love, Love and Sound of Young Love were released on the Wing label in 1968 and 1969, respectively.

Gore tried a number of marketing strategies in an attempt to revive her sagging recording career. On the big screen she showed up in the company of James Brown, the Rolling Stones, the Supremes, and Marvin Gaye in the 1965 film The T.A.M.I. Show, and she appeared later that same year in Ski Party. She took her turn in the parade of celebrities making guest appearances on televisions Batman a few years later, playing Pussycat, a sidekick to Catwoman.

As the 1960s faded into the past and the 1970s arrived, it became clear that the popular music markets taste for Gores songs had declined sharply. Helping to accelerate the downswing in demand for Gore was her decision in the late 1960s to step away from her singing career so that she could attend college. College made it impossible for the singer to tour, which in turn meant her records got little or no promotion. The inevitable result was an absence of hit records.

Having had her day in the sun, Gore lost no sleep over the decline in her recording career. With her brother Michael she returned to another of her passionssongwriting. A couple of albums were released after the end of the 1960s, but none enjoyed commercial success on the scale she had enjoyed at the beginning of her career. With Michael, Lesley composed a few songs for the hit movie Fame, including the Oscar-nominated Out Here on My Own. In the 1990s Gore co-wrote My Secret Love for Allison Anderss film Grace of My Heart, released in 1996. A couple of years later, she appeared in Smokey Joes Café on Broadway.

After college was behind her, Gore began touring again, but on a scale far less grand than she had enjoyed during her heyday. Now she toured the resorts and casino clubs to entertain people who had loved her sound as teenagers in the early 1960s but had since passed into adulthood. A big surprise for Gore was the large number of younger listeners who came out to hear her songs of the 1960s. You know what is amazing? she told the New York Daily News, in comments included at the Salon.com website. You look around and you see these baby boomers in the audience whove brought their kids along [and in some cases their grandkids]. It just proves how durable this music is.

Selected discography

Ill Cry If I Want To (includes Its My Party), Mercury, 1963.

Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts, Mercury, 1963.

Boys, Boys, Boys, Mercury, 1964.

Girl Talk, Mercury, 1964.

My Town, My Guy & Me, Mercury, 1965.

Lesley Gore Sings All about Love, Mercury, 1966.

California Nights, Mercury, 1967.

Love, Love, Love, Wing, 1968.

Sound of Young Love, Wing, 1969.

Someplace Else Now, MoWest, 1972.

Love Me by Name, A&M, 1978.

Anthology, Rhino, 1986.



Knopper, Steve, editor, MusicHound Lounge: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press, 1998.


Its Still Her Party, Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/people/rewind/1999/07/24/gore/ (December 3, 2001).

Lesley Gore, All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=1LESLEYRE (December 3, 2001).

Lesley Gore, The Lesley Gore Home Page, http://members.tripod.com/~Lesley_Gore/ (December 3, 2001).

Lesleys Place, http://www.patswayne.com/lesley/lgore.htm (December 3, 2001).

Don Amerman