Lesley Gore grew up a normal teenager who liked to sing. She was born Lesley Sue Goldstein in Brooklyn, New York in 1946. Her family was Jewish and her and her brother had a pretty normal upbringing. When she was five years old, her parents wanted to get their kids out of New York City, so they moved to Tenafly, New Jersey, which is in the upper Northeast past of the state. Still close to the city, so Dad could go to work, but enough away as to not be influenced by the bad stuff that went on there.
Lesley grew up singing. She sang every time she got the chance until finally, her parents decided this could be a career and paid to get her voice lessons. When she was sixteen, she was singing with a college band made up of mostly friends and they got gigs all over the area. One night, they were booked into the Prince George Hotel in New York, but they didn’t need a singer. Lesley went anyway and sat and watched. As the night progressed, she asked if she could sit in and sing a number or two. Reluctantly, the band let her. In the audience was none other than Quincy Jones.
Now Quincy Jones would go on to become one of the biggest and greatest record producers of the rock and roll era, but at this time, he hadn’t yet had a hit, yet. He liked Lesley and offered her a chance to sing a demo for Mercury Records. The next night, he came to the Goldstein house with 250 demos so that she could pick which songs she wanted to sing. “It’s My Party” was the first one she picked.
They were in the studio the next day. They recorded several songs. Someone didn’t think Lesley Goldstein was a good name for a pop recording star, so they changed her last name to her mother’s maiden name, “Gore.” She was now Lesley Gore.
Three days later, Lesley was driving home from school listening to the radio when she heard “It’s My Party” come on. Jones had heard that Phil Spector was going to record “It’s My Party” with The Crystals and he wanted to beat Spector to market with the song, so they rushed Lesley’s version out first and that became the hit. To my knowledge, The Crystals never recorded “It’s My Party” unless it was a cut on one of their albums.
The song went to number one, but it was the only number one Lesley would have. She had a good career, putting eleven songs into the Top 40 with three in the Top 10. Her follow up was “It’s Judy’s Turn To Cry” (#5) which is a sequel to “It’s My Party” since the first song, she was losing her boyfriend to the infamous Judy, but in the second song, her boyfriend comes back to her and Judy is left out in the cold. She also recorded a song which became something of a women’s rights anthem, “You Don’t Own Me” (#2.)
Leslie had a good career, getting into acting and making albums much of her life. She played the character “Pussycat” on the original Batman television show in the mid-Sixties. Unfortunately, in 2015, she died of lung cancer while writing the biography of her life. In 2005, she came out as a lesbian and when she died she had been in a relationship with Lois Sasson, her partner, for 33 years.
In 1980, a campus radio station for the University of Michigan, WCBN-FM played “It’s My Party” continuously for 18 hours straight when Ronald Reagan was elected president.
“It’s My Party” entered the pop chart on May 18, 1963 and stayed at the top for two weeks.