Lesley Gore (born , 1946 as Lesley Sue Goldstein) is an American singer-songwriter of the "girl group era". She is perhaps best known for her 1963 pop hit, "It's My Party", which she recorded at the age of 16. Following the hit, she became one of the most recognized teen pop singers of 1963-1967. At the time of her birth, her family was in the process of changing their names back to their Russian name (Gore).
Gore was born in New York City, New York, United States. She was raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, in a Jewish family. Her father, Leo Gore, was a wealthy manufacturer of children's clothes and swimwear; she also had a younger brother, Michael. Lesley was a junior at the Dwight School for Girls in nearby Englewood when "It's My Party" became a #1 hit.
Career: 1960s and 1970s
Gore's first hit was followed by many others, including "Judy's Turn to Cry" (the sequel to "It's My Party") (U.S. #5), "She's a Fool" (U.S. #5), the proto-feminist "You Don't Own Me" (U.S. #2), "That's The Way Boys Are" (U.S. #12), "Maybe I Know" (U.S. #14), "The Look Of Love" (U.S. #27) and "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" (U.S. #13). Her record producer was Quincy Jones, who would later become one of the most famous producers in American music.
Instead of accepting the television and movie contracts that came her way, Gore chose to attend Sarah Lawrence College in New York. This limited her public career to weekends and summer vacations, and undoubtedly hurt her career. Nevertheless, throughout the mid-1960s, Gore continued to be one of the most popular female singers in the United States and Canada.
Gore was given first shot at recording "A Groovy Kind of Love", but her then-producer Shelby Singleton refused to let her record a song with the word "groovy" in it; The Mindbenders went on to record the song, and it went to #2 on the Billboard charts. Gore also released "Wedding Bell Blues" as a single in 1969, but her version flopped, while the 5th Dimension's spent three weeks at #1. However she was able to sing the 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy). Lesley also recorded many of her hit songs in French, German, and Italian.
By the late 1960s, her popularity had decreased with the advent of harder-edged psychedelic music. Her last major hit was the Bob Crewe-produced "California Nights" (U.S. #16), which she performed on both the January 19 and January 25, 1967, episodes of the Batman TV series, in which she guest-starred as Pussycat, one of Catwoman's minions. In the episodes, she lip-synched to her songs "California Nights" and "Maybe Now" (the latter was for some reason cut from most later broadcasts of the episodes). Afterwards, she maintained a lower profile in the music industry, performing at concerts and in cabarets. She also kept busy writing songs, including composing songs for the soundtrack of the 1980 film, Fame, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for "Out Here on My Own", written with her brother Michael. The song was a Top 20 hit for Irene Cara.
Return to recording in 2005
Gore played concerts and appeared on television throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 2005, she recorded her first album of new material since 1976 (Love Me By Name) ??? Ever Since ??? with producer/songwriter Blake Morgan for Engine Company Records (a small independent label). In addition to extensive national radio coverage and critical acclaim from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine, and other national press, three songs from Ever Since have been used in television shows and the film Better Angels, in CSI: Miami's fourth season premiere episode, "Words We Don't Say", in an episode of The L Word, and "It's Gone", in the Jeff Lipsky-directed film Flannel Pajamas.
Gore announced in 2005 that she is a lesbian. She stated further that she did not know her own sexual orientation until she was in her late teens at Sarah Lawrence College.
Some commentators consider the lyric content of some albums, notably Someplace Else Now, to contain implicit references to Gore's sexuality. Her altering of known song lyrics was also thought to have implied her orientation as in her album The Canvas Can Do Miracles. On that album she covered the song "You're the One That I Want" (from the film Grease), altering the line "cause I need a man" to "cause I need a friend".
Gore provided musical aid for the 1996 film Grace of My Heart, which featured a character (played by Bridget Fonda) whose struggles over her sexual orientation were similar to Gore's. Beginning in 2004, Gore could be seen hosting the PBS television series, In the Life, which focused on LGBT issues. Gore currently lives with her partner of more than 23 years.