Around the world, fans and celebrities are mourning the 1960s pop star, Lesley Gore, who died at the age of 68 from cancer on February 16. However, what is interesting is what fans remember about her — and what she remembered about herself in multiple interviews. While she is currently in the headlines for losing her battle with cancer, recent interviews show that Lesley Gore was far from being an ordinary singer with a faded career.
Instead, Lesley Gore wore many hats over her lifetime, and was known for her involvement with LGBT rights, being proud to be Jewish, involvement with pro-choice activism, and for creating what many fans call “the first feminist anthem” with her hit “You Don’t Own Me.” According to the New York Times, Lesley Gore also came out as a lesbian relatively late in life on the PBS show, “In The Life.”
Upon news of her death, Rolling Stone published an in-depth look at her music and noted that Lesley Gore had a music career that continued up until she released her album Ever Since in 2005. Billboard Magazine states that Lesley Gore had 19 entries on Billboard’s Hot 100, and the top 10 all occurred between 1963 and 1967.
Rolling Stone also noted, “After graduating college in the late Sixties and staying largely out of the spotlight throughout the Seventies, Gore resurfaced in 1980 when “Out Here On My Own,” a song she co-wrote with her brother Michael for the Fame soundtrack, was nominated for a Best Original Song Academy Award; Michael Gore would instead end up winning the Oscar for his song “Fame.”
Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Twitter account posted a thank you to Lesley Gore and said, “Lesley Gore, you will be missed. Thank you for using your voice to advocate for women’s rights + voting.” The linked video with the tweet is titled, “You Don’t Own Me — Public Service Announcement”
Country music star and actress, Reba McIntyre, also tweeted about Lesley Gore and says that she loved her the singer. Upon hearing of her death, actress Rose McGowan tweeted, “A beautiful voice gone quiet. Rest in peace.”
Known for her grace, Katie Couric paid her condolences to Lesley Gore saying, “It’s My Party singer Lesley Gore has died. So sad to hear this. She was wonderful. Now it’s our turn to cry.”
Along with RIP tweets and condolences, Lesley Gore is also being remembered for her fun roles on television during the heyday of her career. Lesley Gore was only 16 when she released her first hit, “It’s My Party,” and this lead to a role on the popular 1960s television show, Batman. On the show, Lesley Gore performed, “California Nights” for Cat Woman and other characters.
In a 2013 interview with Profiles, Lesley Gore states about her early career, “There were very few female singers in the 1960s, so I may have had a bit of an empty playing field…. but it was a time when the record industry started to understand that they had a youth market… and I think we [the few female singers of the 1960s] made an impact.”
The interviewer goes on to note that she was the biggest female solo artist of the 1960’s — of which Lesley Gore was surprised to learn almost 50 years later. About her continued fame, Lesley Gore noted, “When we recorded those hits, we did not expect them to still be played over 40 years later.”
Big Band leading musician Quincy Jones quit touring as the popularity of that genre declined over the early 1960’s and started working for Mercury Records. It was Quincy Jones that both discovered Lesley Gore and developed the sound that she was known for.
In particular, Lesley Gore states in the Profiles interview that some of the new techniques used were double track vocals. Lesley Gore also said that, “Mostly back then rock-n-roll music was 1-4-5 chords, quite simple, with very few minors or sevens, very little horns… [for] Quincy, this was his background — as a matter of fact, in 1963 and 1964 when we started recording, double voice tracks were illegal by the unions.”
— 60’s TV Time (@1960sTV) February 17, 2015
— Reba (@reba) February 16, 2015
“@ KellyCBS4: “It’s My Party” singer Lesley Gore has died.” So sad to hear this! She was wonderful. Now it’s our turn to cry…RIP Lesley.
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) February 16, 2015
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) February 16, 2015
Sad to hear of the death of Lesley Gore – an early feminist anthem You Don’t Own Me (HD) – YouTube https://t.co/0Ae1d5odmg
— Linda Grant (@lindasgrant) February 16, 2015
So sad to hear about the loss of Lesley Gore. Never mind that she wrote some iconic songs, she was a fierce feminist. RIP, with gratitude.
— TheLi.st (@thelist) February 16, 2015
— Andrew Hampp (@ahampp) February 16, 2015
— Jewish Tweets (@JewishTweets) February 16, 2015
[All images from the referenced links. Feature image by Keystone / Stringer from the Hulton Archive used with permission by Getty Images.]