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Lesley Gore is a singer-songwriter best remembered for her 1963 smash single "It's My Party." Gore also scored hits with "Maybe I Know" and "You Don't Own Me."
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Lesley Gore's first and most popular hit, 1963's "It's My Party," remains her calling card today. Her voice became the quintessential sound for youthful longing, and she recorded several other hits throughout the 1960s, including "Look of Love," "Maybe I Know" and "You Don't Own Me." Gore was later nominated for an Academy Award for "Out Here on My Own" for the film Fame.
"The more people understand that they probably already know a gay person, and in fact adore them, then the better off we're gonna be—and that may take awhile, but it's happening, for sure. By the time I shut my eyes for good, I'll have seen a real difference, I think, and I'm happy about that."
Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore was born on May 2, 1946, in Brooklyn, New York. Gore grew up in nearby Tenafly, New Jersey. She was only 16 years old when she was discovered by legendary music producer, Quincy Jones. Though several versions of the story of their auspicious meeting exist—one source said that they met at a party, while another claims that Jones saw Gore singing in a hotel—Gore herself remembers that it happened through a string of lucky connections.
As Gore recalls, "The short story and the truth is that I was taking vocal lessons here in New York ... One day, instead of my lesson, the piano player and I went into a studio ... and we put down some demos ... Those demos got to Quincy Jones through an agent ... He listened to them, he called me, and we started to record."
Gore could not have begun her music career with a better team behind her. Her first single, 1963's "It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To)," was arranged by famed Brill Building songwriter Ellie Greenwich and produced by Quincy Jones. The song resonated with millions of teenage girls across America, becoming an overnight success.
Gore's sudden fame was a little overwhelming: "We recorded the record on a Saturday afternoon, March 30th, and I heard the record for the first time on April 6th. I was driving to school, literally seven days later. You know, that doesn't happen anymore, so when it started getting played, we weren't prepared for it. We didn't even know it had been released."
"It's My Party" soared to the top of the charts and hit No. 1 within weeks. In June 1963, Gore released her first album with Mercury, entitled I'll Cry If I Want To, reaching No. 24 on the U.S. albums chart.
Though Gore and her family tried to live normally despite her new celebrity, soon, hoards of fans began literally showing up on her front doorstep: "You have to take into account that this was a long time ago, and we didn't have things like answering machines," Gore later said. "So when the disc jockey ... would say, 'That was Lesley Gore, the sweetie pie from Tenafly,' well, people just came to Tenafly. You know, I'd wake up and there were people camped out on the grass."
Despite all the attention, Gore stayed in school and studied hard while continuing to nurture her music career. Her next single, "Judy's Turn to Cry," was a kind of sequel story to "It's My Party" and reached No. 5 on the charts.
Over the next two years, while she remained in high school, Gore released a string of bubble-gum hits like "She's a Fool," "That's the Way Boys Are," "Look of Love," "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" and "My Town, My Guy, and Me."
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