It’s My Party by Lesley Gore

September 5, 2014

 

Three days after her 17th birthday, Lesley Gore received a belated present when her first single, “It’s My Party,” debuted at number 60 on the Billboard’s Hot 100. It quickly moved to number 26, then to number nine, and on June 1, 1963, reached number one. It remained at the top for two weeks. It also topped the R&B Chart, which was a real stretch.

It was a typical early 1960s song of teen angst where the female protagonist loses the boy at her party. She would get her revenge in the follow-up single, “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” which became another hit, reaching number five. It was a catchy up-tempo pop number that featured some early dual tracking of her lead vocal. It was perfect AM radio fare at the time and sold over a million copies.

She began her career as the singer in a local seven-piece band, which played weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and birthday parties. Their gig at the Prince George Hotel in Manhattan was caught by producer Quincy Jones. He signed her to a contract and, on March 30, 1963, had her record four songs. “It’s My Party” was quickly released as The Crystals were about to record the song.

The song also made history as the first number one for producer Quincy Jones and the engineer for the recording session, Phil Ramone.

Her greatest commercial success came 1963-1967 for Mercury Records as she charted 19 singles. Songs such as “You Don’t Own Me,” “She’s A Fool,” “California Nights,” and “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” were some of the finest pure pop performances of the decade. While she never had another chart hit, she has continued to perform, record, and write songs for the past 50 years.

A half century ago Lesley Gore sent out over a million party invitations in the form of small, seven-inch 45s. They enabled her to top the American music world for the only time in her career.

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It’s My Party: The Mercury Anthology by Lesley Gore

March 8, 2010

Lesley Gore was a typical high school student during the early sixties until she walked into a recording studio with producer Quincy Jones and cut a single called “It’s My Party.” The song would top the American pop charts during March of 1963 and before the year was finished she would produce three more top-five singles, making her a very unique teenager.

Today Lesley Gore is best remembered for her series of singles issued between 1963 and 1967. She had all-American looks and appeal and was a female teen idol in her day, appearing on such programs as The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, The Tonight Show, Hullabaloo, and Shindig. While her career was never as commercially successful as during the sixties, she has continued to tour regularly and has issued four studio albums since 1972 including 2005’s Ever Since.

The best introduction to her music is It’s My Party: The Mercury Anthology. 52 tracks, contained on two discs, span her career with the Mercury label. It includes all of her singles for the label, including seventeen which reached the charts, plus some B-sides and a few album tracks.

Much of her material was from a much simpler time and reflects as such. “It’s My Party” and the follow up, “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” dealt with teen angst. “Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows,” “California Nights,” “Summer and Sandy,” and “My Town, My Guy, and Me” were all catchy pop tunes which were perfect radio fare. “She’s A Fool” was a rare release with bite as it was an early pro-feminist commentary.

Her final material for the label was recorded in 1969 and was an attempt to adapt to a changing music industry. “98.6/Lazy Day” and her last single, “Wedding Bell Blues,” which became a huge hit for the Fifth Dimension, failed to chart and she moved on to other labels and projects.

On a personal note, I saw Lesley Gore in concert sometime during the early eighties on one of those oldies packages. I remember Lou Christie and Rick Nelson were also on the bill. I’m sure that performance thirty years ago is similar to what would be presented by her today.

Lesley Gore may not have issued any material that changed the musical landscape but her songs were well crafted and they still enable the aging baby boom generation to return to that simpler time and remember. Sometimes that is legacy enough.


It’s My Party 45 by Lesley Gore

January 24, 2010

“It’s My Party and I’LL Cry If I Want Too” are the words which launched the career of then teenager Lesley Gore.

Lesley Gore was sixteen when “It’s My Party” was released and was close to her seventeenth birthday when it reached the number one position on The American singles charts for two weeks in May of 1963.

It was an upbeat and catchy tune which told the eternal high school story of love lost. She would get her revenge with the song “Judy’s Turn To Cry.”

She would go on to place 19 songs on The American charts between 1963 and 1967. She would continue to release albums and tour but never regained the popularity of her youth. I remember seeing her in concert during the early 1980’s

The odd note is the Mercury Label always issued her picture sleeves in black and white.