In 1963, a 17-year old from Tenafly, New Jersey, hit the top of the charts with It’s My Party.
The daughter of a wealthy swimsuit manufacturer, Lesley Gore (born Lesley Sue Goldstein) had a number of strong songs, and her trademark impassioned vocals ensured she had further Top 5 hits with Judy’s Turn To Cry (in which Lesley won her Johnny back), She’s A Fool and You Don’t Own Me.
Gore was a chubby teenager, given to chiffon dresses and wearing her hair in a flip. She looked like your best friend’s cute but naive sister.
The string of hits that made her famous did little to change that perception.
She seemed destined to pass on, remembered merely as the chronicler of disastrous Sweet-Sixteen parties.
At 16 she had been snapped up by Mercury Records, and in 1963 was hailed as a major star when her records became hits on both sides of the Atlantic.
And for the next few years she had a string of successes, notably in America, with further singles, including Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows, and albums snapped up by teenagers who identified with her and her material.
Despite her success, Gore was determined to finish her education, by gaining her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New Jersey. The year she entered the college – 1965 – she cut back on live appearances, and by the time she re-emerged it was arguably too late. The formula had lost its potency.
Live appearances in 1970 and 1971 did not impress the critics and her career floundered.
She did, however, sign a new contract with Motown Records in 1972 – though two years later she switched to A&M.
Lesley later turned to songwriting and in 1980 enjoyed success, having penned several of the lyrics for the movie Fame (1980), directed by Alan Parker. Most of the music for the film was composed by her brother Michael.
In 2005, she recorded Ever Since – her first album of new material since Love Me By Name in 1976.
Gore announced in 2005 that she was a lesbian and living with her partner of over 23 years.
Lesley Gore died of cancer at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan in February 2015. She was 68.