On May 30, 1963, a New Jersey teenager named Lesley Gore makes her first appearance on American Bandstand singing her hit-to-be, “It’s My Party”.
Lesley Gore (née Lesley Sue Goldstein) was just a few weeks past her own 17th birthday when she performed one of the greatest teen-drama songs of all time on American Bandstand. Just three months earlier, she was an unsigned unknown performing anywhere she got the chance when Quincy Jones, then a staff producer with Mercury Records, saw and heard her in a Manhattan nightclub. In late February, Jones sat with Gore in her family’s suburban living room and helped her select “It’s My Party” from among hundreds of demos he’d brought for her to consider. Six weeks later, Gore’s debut single was finished and pressed, and soon thereafter it was on its way to the top of the pop charts—an achievement reached in the week immediately following her Bandstand performance.
Though she was later nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the song “Out Here On My Own” from the movie Fame (1980), Lesley Gore clearly made her biggest mark with “It’s My Party” and its immediate follow-ups, including “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” “She’s A Fool,” “You Don’t Own Me” and “That’s The Way Boys Are.” Taken together, those records constituted a kind of proto-feminist song cycle that paved the way for more overtly liberated pop songs to come—songs like “Respect,” “I Am Woman” and “I Will Survive.”
Gore died of lung cancer on February 16, 2015.