Lesley Gore Biography

Lesley Gore was a singer and composer who achieved widespread success with her single “It’s My Party” in 1963. In addition, Gore was successful with the songs “Maybe I Know” and “You Don’t Own Me.”

Who Was Lesley Gore?

“It’s My Party,” which was Lesley Gore’s first and most successful hit, was released in 1963 and continues to serve as her signature song. Throughout the 1960s, she recorded a number of additional singles, including “Look of Love,” “Maybe I Know,” and “You Don’t Own Me.” Her voice became the archetypal sound of adolescent yearning, and she had numerous other hits in the same decade. In subsequent years, Gore was considered for an Oscar nomination for his performance of “Out Here on My Own” in the film Fame. On February 16, 2015, Gore passed away as a result of lung cancer.

Early Life and First Hit Song

Lesley Sue Goldstein, who would later become known as Lesley Gore, was born on May 2, 1946, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York. Gore spent his childhood in the neighboring town of Tenafly, New Jersey. Quincy Jones, a famed music producer, found her when she was just 16 years old and signed her to his record label. Gore recalls that their meeting was the result of a series of fortunate coincidences, despite the fact that there are multiple accounts of how they came to be acquainted (one source claims that they met at a party, while another states that Jones saw Gore singing in a hotel), both of these tales can be found in the literature.


As Gore was able to recollect, “To cut a long tale short and get to the point, the fact is that I was taking vocal lessons here in New York… One day, the piano player and I decided to go into a studio instead of taking my lesson, where we recorded several recordings together. The demos were sent to Quincy Jones via an agency… After hearing them, he gave me a call, and then we started recording together.”

Gore’s first steps in the music industry could not have been taken with a more capable support staff. Her debut single, “It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To),” was released in 1963 and was produced by Quincy Jones. The arrangement for the song was done by the famous Brill Building songwriter Ellie Greenwich. As a result of the song’s ability to connect with millions of young females throughout the United States, it became an instant sensation.

The fast rise to popularity that Gore experienced was a little bit overwhelming: “We started recording the record on a Saturday afternoon on March 30, and it wasn’t until April 6 that I heard the finished product for the first time. Literally, seven days later, I was driving to school for the first time. Because something like that doesn’t happen very often any longer, we weren’t ready for it when it started being used in the game. We were completely unaware that it had ever been made available.”

It just took a few short weeks for “It’s My Party” to climb all the way to the top of the charts and claim the number one spot. I’ll Cry If I Want To was the title of Gore’s debut album with Mercury, which was released in June 1963 and peaked at position No. 24 on the album chart in the United States.

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Even though Gore and her family attempted to live a normal life in spite of her newfound fame, soon after, hoards of fans began literally showing up on her front doorstep: “You have to take into consideration that this was a long time ago, and we didn’t have things like answering machines,” Gore later said. “The result of this was that when the disc jockey would say things like, “That was Tenafly’s own Lesley Gore, the sweetie pie from Tenafly,” people would flock to Tenafly. To tell you the truth, every morning when I woke up, there were people camping out on the lawn.”

Gore chose to remain in school and work diligently on her studies despite the attention that she received, even while she continued to develop her profession as a musician. Her subsequent song, “Judy’s Time to Cry,” was a sort of continuation of the tale that was told in “It’s My Party,” and it peaked at position No. 5 on the charts.

Early Career and Songs

Gore launched a run of bubble-gum successes over the following two years while she was still a high school student. Some of these songs include “She’s a Fool,” “That’s the Way Guys Are,” “Look of Love,” “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” and “My Town, My Man, and Me.”

But, one song, in particular, stood out from the rest: “You Don’t Own Me.” This song unashamedly proclaims that women are not objects that men can own and control, making it stand out from the other songs. The song was penned by the male songwriting pair John Madera and David White, which may seem paradoxical, but Gore’s powerful voice and passion for the lyrics pushed adolescent females to stand up for themselves and not allow boys to bully them around. The song remained at No. 2 for several weeks, falling short of The Beatles’ record-breaking hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” which changed the world forever.

As Gore detailed the record in question: “When I was around 16 or 17 years old and I heard that song for the first time, feminism was not yet a widely accepted concept. Although there was some discussion on it at the time, it did not exist in any form of state. My interpretation of that song was as follows: I am seventeen years old; what a beautiful thing it is to be able to get up on a platform and raise your finger at people while singing “you don’t own me.”

In the 1960s, the record business in the United States was controlled by men, so Gore had to go far and wide to find female role models. Bella Abzug, a feminist lawyer, and politician who later became a personal friend, was one of the women who served as an inspiration to her. When “You Don’t Own Me” was sung by Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn for the 1996 comedy film The First Wives Club, which was about women getting vengeance for their cheating, lying, and manipulating ex-husbands, the song received a new lease of life for a younger generation of fans.


Gore continued to seek a career in music when she graduated from high school; nevertheless, she did not allow this pursuit to prevent her from pursuing more schooling. She attended Sarah Lawrence College, an institution that was exclusively for women, and she dedicated her summers and breaks to performing, recording, and touring during her time there. Later on in the 1960s, Gore released hits like “Treat Me Like a Woman,” “He Gives Me Love (La, La, La),” and “California Nights,” but she continued to prioritize her education over her performance, a decision that ultimately slowed down her career.

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Later in life, Gore reflected on her time at Sarah Lawrence College, saying, “I was a good student and I enjoyed school.” Gore majored in literature and theatre at Sarah Lawrence College, and she loved every minute of it. “I was a good student and I enjoyed school.” “To some extent, the university served as a sanctuary for me. A stunning academic institution with a noteworthy approach to learning. They do not treat women any differently than they would any other human being, and this practice has been around since the time period in question. I owe a great deal of gratitude to Sarah Lawrence for assisting me in achieving the state of mind in which I was able to enjoy being a woman. It was a really satisfying experience.”

Discovering her Sexual Orientation

In addition, it was during her time with Sarah Lawrence that Gore came to the conclusion that she was a lesbian. She went on to explain that before attending college, she had simply never had the leisure to investigate her own emotions. “I had lovers,” she continued. “I had boyfriends.” “It had been planned that I would get married… All that was said above was on the schedule at the time… Being exposed to the general populace was one of the issues that I had to deal with. Even attempting to investigate it was a challenge. I wasn’t even given the chance to take advantage of that. When I chat with some of my homosexual female friends who might be just a little bit older than me, they tell me that they used to come in from Long Island or New Jersey, put on black jackets and black Levi’s jeans, and then race to the bars. That was beyond my capabilities at the time.”

Gore did not come out as homosexual until after the height of her stardom had gone; nonetheless, she claims that she never hid it from those who were closest to her: “I just tried to live my life as normally as possible under the circumstances. But with the most honest intent that is humanly possible.”


After finishing college, Gore continued to release songs while also beginning to explore new artistic paths, such as stage performances and television appearances. She played the role of Pussycat in an episode of the popular television program Batman, and the episode featured her lip-syncing to the song “California Nights.”

Gore retreated from the public eye and focused his attention on songs as the 1970s unfolded. As a result of being fired from Mercury Records in 1969 owing to falling album sales, Lesley Gore was finally able to focus on writing and singing her own music rather than that of other people. She explained it by saying, “That’s what got me to the piano.” “A blank sheet of paper and the hope that I will have something to show for my efforts at the end of the day” was what motivated me to get out of bed each morning.

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The year 1972 marked the release of Gore’s debut album for the record label Mowest. The songs, which were compiled into an album with the same name, charted her development both as a person and as a songwriter. The next year, in 1976, she released Love Me By Name, and in 1982, she released The Canvas Can Do Wonders. In the 1980s, she also contributed songs to the soundtrack of the smash blockbuster film Fame. One of the songs, “Out Here on My Own,” a stirring hymn that she and her younger brother Michael co-wrote, was submitted for consideration for an Academy Award. Over the same period of time, she started developing feelings for the person who would eventually become her life partner.

Personal Life

Between the years 1982 and 2005, Gore did not release a single or an album due to his general contentment with fading into the background. She started anchoring episodes of a PBS documentary series called In the Life, which was centered on gay and lesbian topics, at the conclusion of this period of time.

She made her official coming out to the public on the show, which she said her work on the show inspired her to do: “I met a lot of young people in the Midwest, and I saw what a difference a show like In the Life can make to their lives in some of these small towns where, you know, there are probably two gay people in the whole damn town.”

Final Years and Death

Ever Since was Gore’s comeback album, which was released in 2005 and received positive reviews from music reviewers. The album was also used in the soundtracks of a number of movies and television series, such as CSI and The L Word.

On February 16, 2015, at the age of 68, Gore passed away as a result of lung cancer. Her long-term companion of more than 30 years, Lois Sasson, and their dog had been her only company while she resided in her birthplace of New York City.

According to Sasson, who spoke to the Associated Press about her, “She was a lovely human being. She was loving, generous, a great feminist, a great woman, a great human being, and tremendous humanitarian.”

She stated that performing in front of an audience and putting on her performance was the most enjoyable aspect of what she did now. “The worst part is getting there: the trip to and from the airport, the travel to and from the gig, and the preparation time. After 44 years, I find that I am no longer very fascinated by it. But as soon as the emcee introduces Lesley Gore as “the one and only,” I am completely immersed in the experience. It’s similar to being an athlete in that you need to be in good shape and constantly move around different environments. That is the highest manifestation of reality.”

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