Saturday, February 21, 2015

In Memoriam: Lesley Gore 1946-2015

When Lois Sasson confirmed on February 16 that her longtime partner, Lesley Gore, a non-smoker, had died of lung cancer at the untimely age of 68, feminists, freedom fighters, humanitarians and Catwoman lovers of all stripes mourned the passing of an iconic ally and inspiration.

--Peter Rothberg, The Nation  

"It's My Party" remains one of the most vivid evocations of adolescent heartbreak ever waxed--Quincy Jones produced the record, although you'd swear it was [Melrose Place producer] Aaron Spelling instead."

--AllMusic Critic Jason Ankeny

If you don't mind hearing it twice, here's a video Gore made of the song some 25 years later:

That looked like Mike Myers' Dr. Evil at the end, didn't it? I've checked and re-checked. The video is from 1989 (as if you couldn't tell that already from the clothes and the hair) and Evil didn't make his debut until 1997.

Now, I, or at least Peter Rothberg, promised you a freedom fighter:

Not exactly Che Guevara, but in that time and place...

You could savor every bitchy second of Lesley's triumph with her sequel "Judy's Turn to Cry".

--Music journalist Lillian Roxon

Now, the feminist:

Now, THAT'S Che Guevara (or Gloria Steinem.)

My take on the song was: I'm 17, what a wonderful thing, to stand up on a stage and shake your finger at people and sing you don't own me.

--Lesley Gore

Left unsaid is whether that was her middle finger that's she shaking (after all,the video was shot from the neck up.)

Now, for Catwoman lovers of all stripes:

Holy 45 rpm record, Batman!

The iconic alley and inspiration:

Afraid to go on American Idol? Hell, they've played her songs on that show!

Finally, the humanitarian:

Hey, she made people happy. What's more humanitarian than that?


  1. I love that 1980s outfit and look! I think times have changed for me. I found myself humming this after going to the birthday party of 2 little twins who occasionally found everything just a bit too much to cope with. :)

    1. Children can really relate to that song, Jenny. The chorus, anyway.

  2. Love her voice. In the sixties, I visited a friend at Sarah Lawrence College and Leslie was there. She didn't make a big deal of herself, but seemed to blend in. I'm so glad you posted this. It was good to hear those songs again.

    1. For me, Kass, I think it's both her voice and energetic approach. Even a slower song such as "You Don't Own Me" has a certain thrust to it.

  3. "...a certain thrust." Good choice of words. I agree.

  4. I really think your right, her voice and energetic approach. Plus as I understand just an overall nice person. It sorta comes through.
    Just when over to You Tube and watched some of the videos there.
    Really miss the 60's clothes.

    cheers, parsnip

  5. The rock and roll '60s clothes or the Catwoman '60s clothes, parsnip? Actually, I think I know the answer.

  6. I understand that Quincy Jones produced "It's My Party." He was working for the record label and they demanded he get a hit on the radio. He heard the little white girl sing and history was made.

    My brother is also a Lesley Gore fan but I missed her appeal, I guess. Watch her in the T.A.M.I. Show, along with the British invasion groups, Smokey Robinson, James Brown...and she holds her own. My only problem was in her poppy songs. I just could not get into the mindset of a teenage girl. In real life in those days I was more like the bad boy of the songs who made her cry.

  7. Hmm...These days, Postino, I don't have to necessarily need to identify with the point-of-view of a song or the person singing it in order to enjoy it, but when I was in high school? First off, I hate to bring this up, but there's a generational difference here. I was in high school in the late 1970s, by which time Lesley Gore was relegated to "oldies" stations. I never experienced her as a new artist (nor the Beatles, for that matter) While there were plenty of female singers when I was in high school, I can't think of a single one that ever sang from the point of view of a teenage girl, so I honestly don't know how I would have reacted had I heard such a song. When I was in high school, radio was pretty segregated. I don't mean racially (though it was that, too, come to think of it) but between Pop (Top 40) and Rock (AOR). Though I started out listening to Top 40, I steadily gravitated toward the more macho AOR as I approached graduation, but there was a bit pf peer pressure involved there. I don't know if I would have done so in a vacuum.

    For the most part, I now actually prefer '60s music to that of which I grew up with, be it Top 40 or AOR. Maybe because it wasn't so segregated. Seems like there was a very thin, thin line separating rock and pop back then, best epitomized by the Beatles but also someone like Gore.

  8. " I don't have to necessarily need to"

    That's what happens when you re-word a sentence too quickly.