Lesley Gore

Gary:

Note / We lost Lesley today February 16, 2015 to Lung Cancer, she was 68.

“To make this a complete and fare Blog I have to look at Artists that were not my favourites.  This Artist sold a lot of records, none to me, I did not enjoy her, but obviously a lot of people did.

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Lesley Gore

Videos:

You Don’t Own Me / From the TAMI Show 1964 /
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Live TAMI Show 1964
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It’s My Party / 1965 / Hollywood A-Go-Go
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And Lesley Today at the Lincoln Centre / 2011 /

Music:

It’s My Party / Mercury 72119 / May 1963 / #1 (2) BB

Judy’s Turn To Cry / Mercury 72143 / July 1963 / #5 BB

She’s A Fool / Mercury 72180 / October 1963 / #5 BB

You Don’t Own Me / Mercury 72206 / January 1964 / #2 (2) BB

That’s the Way Boys Are / Mercury 72259 / April 1964 / #12 BB

Maybe I know / Mercury 72309 / August 1964 / #14 BB

California Nights / Mercury 72649 / March 1967 / #16 BB

The most commercially successful solo singer to be identified with the girl group sound, Lesley Gore hit the number one spot with her very first release, “It’s My Party,” in 1963.

Produced by Quincy Jones, who fattened the teenager’s sound with double-tracked vocals and intricate backup vocals and horns, she reeled off a few more big hits in 1963 and 1964, including “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s a Fool,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “That’s the Way Boys Are,” and “Maybe I Know.”

She wasn’t the most soulful girl group singer by a long shot, but she projected an archetype of female adolescent yearning. Her best songs survive as classics, particularly the irresistibly melodic “Maybe I Know” and “Look of Love” (both written by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry) and “You Don’t Own Me,” an anthem of independence with a feminist theme that was considerably advanced for early 1964.

So what was Quincy Jones doing producing a white suburban teenager who had never recorded before? A couple of demos she recorded with her vocal coach made their way to Mercury’s president, who recommended her to Jones, the label’s A&R head.

For their first session, Gore and Jones picked “It’s My Party” out of a pile of about 200 demos. The “It’s My Party” single was rush-released when Jones found out that Phil Spector had plans to record the same song with the Crystals.

It’s My Party” and the weaker sequel, “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” have given Gore a somewhat unfair bratty image. Those are the hits that are remembered the most, but much of her subsequent material was both more mature (or, perhaps more accurately, less immature) and stronger.

The singles were also very well-produced, with orchestral arrangements (by Claus Ogerman) that hewed closer to mainstream pop than Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound.

Retrospectives of Quincy Jones‘ career usually downplay or omit his work with Gore, although it was among his most commercially successful; he’s known now for recordings that are funkier. But his success with Gore did a lot to build his already impressive résumé within the industry.

Gore appeared on the legendary T.A.M.I. Show alongside such heavyweights as the Rolling StonesJames Brown, and Smokey Robinson, but after 1964 her star plummeted rapidly.

Mercury was still investing a lot of care in her sessions throughout the rest of the ’60s, and her material and arrangements showed her capable of greater stylistic range than many acknowledged.

But after the mid-’60s, Jones no longer worked with the singer on a regular basis. “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” (1965) and “California Nights” (1967), both of which were co-written by Marvin Hamlisch, would be her only Top 20 entries after 1964.

She played the cabarets after her days as an active recording artist, and eventually had some success as a songwriter for other performers.

Shortly after the turn of the century, Gore returned to recording, collaborating with multi-instrumentalist Blake Morgan.

In 2005, she released the critically acclaimed album, Ever Since, which landed songs on CSI: Miami and Showtime’s The L Word as well as Jeff Lipsky’s film Flannel Pajamas, which debuted at Sundance in 2006.

–o–

 
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7 responses to “Lesley Gore

  1. Gary: it’s great that you’ll feature an act regardless of your personal likes/dislikes. I must admit I was quite taken by “It’s My Party” at the age of 16. As a kid STARVED for any kind of rock & roll (and going thru withdrawal once Elvis, Berry, Richard, Jerry Lee, and Buddy were off the pop charts) I thought this track was a watering hole in the desert of 1963, six months before The Beatles led us to the Promised Land. As a drummer I loved the explosive back beat on this song — including the unorthodox snare drum pattern mixed LOUD. Later when I was learning to write songs I realized this song had an unusual chord progression for a seemingly simple pop tune (written by relatively obscure writers). And recently I read that it made an impression on John Lennon at the time, who wanted to have his own lead vocal doubled, as Gore’s was on this song. I think this is one hit from 1963 that has held up extremely well over the years and will probably be in rotation on oldies playlists a hundred years from now! A true pop classic, brilliantly produced. And judging from recent pictures, I’d say Ms. Gore has discovered some fountain of youth pills. (IMHO she’s even more attractive at 65 than at 16.)

  2. I enjoy your insightful comments, John, from a musicians point of view. With Quincy Jones arranging and producing, Lesley had some very solid backing, indeed.

  3. Pingback: A #1 Song – My Boyfriend’s Back | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  4. Either “It’s My Party” or “Judy’s Turn to Cry” had a horrible horn note on the fade out on the original release. Naturally it was corrected but I’d love to hear it again! A group of us went to some hotel on Toronto’s airport strip and spent a wonderful evening with Lesley, Lou Christie and Johnny Tillotson. I agree that she was never my favourite girl singer but have to admit her talent and staying power were long-lasting. I hope that wasn’t redundant again.

  5. Sorry to see Lesley Gore leave the stage, and to have a singer go via lung cancer is surely ironic.

  6. I just read that Ellie Greenwich did the arranging on “It’s My Party.” With Greenwich and Quincy Jones working their magic on that session, it’s no longer a surprise to me how a 16-year-old out of nowhere had such a catchy tune. (No offense to Tenafly, NJ.) And, yes, those smoke-filled rooms probably didn’t help. Gore was apparently a non-smoker, but of course those of us who played nightclubs in that era were all smokers by default.

    Re-reading this post inspired my own post on Gore. Thanks!

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