Who is Lesley Gore?
by Pat Swayne (© 1999)
Lesley Gore literally burst onto the music scene in 1963 when her first
single, "It's My Party" was rushed into production by record producer Quincy
Jones, and within weeks of its release, it was a number one hit. This was
to be her only number one song, but she was to be far more than a "one
hit wonder" and had a much greater impact on music and society in general
than numbers alone indicate.
Her greatest musical impact began when she was asked by Quincy to record
a song she really didn't like, and made a deal with him to record it if
he let her select a song on her own to record. The song she selected was
"You Don't Own Me", an anthem of women's rights that predated Helen Reddy's
"I Am Woman" by several years. "You Don't Own Me" made it to number 2 on
the charts, and managed this in spite of being up against two of the Beatles'
biggest hits. It probably sold more actual copies than "It's My Party".
Lesley recorded several top 40 hits during the 60's. She polished her
musical and performing skills during this period, and also began composing
songs. She proved to be very capable at composing both music and lyrics.
Her first published song in which she did both, "Leave Me Alone", became
one of the hits from the movie "The Girls On The Beach".
By the 70's, Lesley had faded from the popular music scene, but it
was during this period that she did some of her finest work, both as a
singer and a composer. The two albums she recorded during this period,
"Someplace Else Now" and "Love Me By Name" are treasured by her fans, and
"Love Me By Name" in particular was also well received by the critics.
Other singers began recognizing her skill as a composer, and began recording
her songs. The late Dusty Springfield put her stamp of approval on Lesley's
music when she did a beautiful cover of the title song from her second
70's album, "Love Me By Name".
During the 80's, Lesley recorded less frequently, but made an even
greater impact as a composer, when the song "Out Here On My Own", which
she wrote with her brother Michael, appeared in the movie "Fame", and was
nominated for an Oscar. Lesley also thrilled her fans during this period
by appearing in concerts, both large and small. In large oldies concerts,
she brought back memories to her fans as she did the songs that made her
famous. In intimate cabaret-style concerts, she proved her versatility
by singing many different kinds of songs.
In the 90's, Lesley continued to compose and sing, and finally, in
1999, she realized a childhood dream when she appeared on Broadway as a
guest star in the musical review "Smokey Joe's Cafe". And now she is working
on her own musical review, something her fans eagerly look forward to.
Her star is on the rise again, and it's still her party.