Monday, February 16, 2015

Lesley Gore

One of our favorite female singers of the '60's, Lesley Gore, passed away earlier today at the age of 68.  Her #1 Hit "It's My Party" captivated every generation of young girls since it first topped the charts back in 1963.  Catchy follow-up hits like "Judy's Turn To Cry" (#4, 1963) and "She's A Fool" (#3, 1963) kept the string of hits going.   

Then, in late 1963, she released a song that many consider to be the first Women's Liberation Anthem, "You Don't Own Me", written by our FH Buddy John Madara.  (It peaked at #2 on all three of the national charts.)  

Other catchy hits followed ... "Maybe I Know" (#10, 1964), "Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows (#13, 1965) and the haunting "California Nights" (#11, 1967, which she sang on an episode of the very popular "Batman" television series, starring as one of Catwoman's 'henchgirls"!

(What's new, Pussycat???)

Ironically, we featured her 1965 Hit "Look Of Love" as part of this morning's 50 Year Flashback.  It was a national Top 20 Hit in early '65.

FH Reader Tom Cuddy sent us this AP Report files by ABC News ...

Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, who topped the charts in 1963 at age 16 with her epic song of teenage angst, "It's My Party," and followed it up with the hits "Judy's Turn to Cry," and the feminist anthem "You Don't Own Me," died Monday.  

She was 68.     

Gore died of lung cancer at New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, according to her partner of 33 years, Lois Sasson.   

"She was a wonderful human being — caring, giving, a great feminist, great woman, great human being, great humanitarian," Sasson, a jewelry designer, told The Associated Press.   

Brooklyn-born and New Jersey-raised, Gore was discovered by Quincy Jones as a teenager and signed to Mercury Records. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in English/American literature.   

Gore's other hits include "She's A Fool," ''Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows," ''That's the Way Boys Are" and "Maybe I Know." She co-wrote with her brother, Michael, the Academy Award-nominated "Out Here On My Own" from the film "Fame."   

She sang at the 1964 T.A.M.I. Show in Santa Monica, California, alongside future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers like the James Brown and the Rolling Stones. Gore also played Catwoman's sidekick in the cult TV comedy "Batman."

In a Facebook post, songwriter Neil Sedaka, who attended Gore's Sweet 16 birthday party, shared his thoughts: "She was a great person and a phenomenal talent, who had opened for me on many occasions. She recorded a few of my songs ("Magic Colors" and "Summer Symphony") and was a great songwriter in her own right. I'm glad I had the chance of knowing her."   

In the 1990s, Gore co-wrote "My Secret Love" for Allison Anders' film "Grace of My Heart," released in 1996. A couple of years later, she appeared in "Smokey Joe's Cafe" on Broadway. Gore had been working on a stage version of her life with playwright Mark Hampton when she died.  

In 2005, she released "Ever Since," her first album in 30 years, but was sure to revisit older hits in front of fans. "If I've learned anything in this business," she told The New York Times that year, "how stupid would it be not to do 'It's My Party' when people come to hear it?"  

She officially came out to the public when she hosted several episodes of the PBS series, "In The Life," which dealt with gay and lesbian issues.  

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Gore turned "You Don't Own Me" into an online video public service announcement demanding reproductive rights which starred Lena Dunham and Tavi Gevinson, among others.  

In the last few years, she performed at Feinstein's at the Loews Regency in New York and, along with Ronnie Spector and LaLa Brooks, headlined the "She's Got the Power" concert outdoors at Lincoln Center in 2012.        

In addition to Sasson, Gore is survived by her brother and mother, Ronny. Services will be held on Thursday at the Frank E. Campbell funeral home on Madison Avenue.  

Ron Smith covered it this way on his website ...   

Protofeminist singer / songwriter Lesley Gore died Monday (February 16) of cancer in a Manhattan, New York hospital. She was 68.   Born in Manhattan and raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, Lesley was reportedly discovered in 1963 at the age of 16 while singing at an event at a New York hotel by Mercury Records Music Director Quincy Jones, who signed her to the label and produced her personally. Her first record, "It's My Party" that year, topped the national charts for two weeks (rushed into release to beat a Phil Spector - produced version by the Crystals). In turn it was followed by "Judy's Turn To Cry" (#5 - 1963), "She's A Fool" (#5 - 1964) "You Don't Own Me" (#2 - 1964, "Maybe I Know" (#14 - 1964), "That's The Way Boys Are" (#12 - 1964) and "Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows" (#13 - 1965). She sang the latter in the movie "Ski Party." Lesley also sang "California Nights" (#16 - 1967) as Catwoman's sidekick, Pussycat, on an episode of ABC-TV's "Batman" (her uncle was a producer of the show). Moving on to Sarah Lawrence College put her career on the back burner, but she wrote the song "Out Here On My Own" with her brother, Michael for the movie "Fame" in 1980. It became a #19 hit for Irene Cara. An acknowledged lesbian, she hosted the PBS series "In the Life" which dealt with LGBT issues in 1992. Lesley was working on a stage musical surrounding her life when she died. 
-- Ron Smith

(Lesley's looking MEGA-Glam in THIS shot!!!)

The wide range of Lesley Gore ...

First up, my all-time favorite track by her, "You Don't Own Me", followed by Frannie's favorite "California Nights" ...

Then a couple of unusual outings ... her beautiful duet with oft-times on stage singing partner Lou Christie singing the beautiful and timeless "Since I Don't Have You" ... followed by a fairly recent track of Lesley covering (of all people!)  AC / DC with "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap"!!! 
(c'mon ... now where else are you going to hear THAT one???)