The Ed Sullivan and SOFA Entertainment are deeply saddened by singer Lesley Gore’s passing. Born Lesley Sue Goldstein on May 2nd 1946 in Brooklyn, NY, Lesley got her start at only 16 years old, after being discovered by producer Quincy Jones in 1963. Gore recorded her first hit “It’s My Party” soon after signing with Mercury Records, where Jones was an A&R man. The song immediately became a success and overnight Lesley Gore turned into a star. “It’s My Party” raced to No. 1 on the charts, was nominated for a Grammy and sold more than 1 million copies. Over the next two years, while still in high school, Gore released a string of so called bubble-gum hits such as “That’s the Way Boys Are,” “She’s a Fool,” “Maybe I Know,” “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” and “You Don’t Own Me.” “You Don’t Own Me,” an unapologetic declaration that women are not objects that men can possess and control, became a prominent feminist anthem as a generation was coming of age in the mid-1960s.
Lesley Gore had become a teenage sensation before the end of 1963. Ed Sullivan would not have missed an opportunity to have her on his show. On October 13th, 1963, Lesley Gore appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. That night a young Lesley, wearing a long sleeveless but conservative silk dress, performed her new hit singles “It’s My Party” and “She’s a Fool.” The teenage sweetheart, returned to the Sullivan stage a year and a half later on January 31st, 1965 to perform “Look of Love” and “Hello Young Lovers.” Lesley, Gore was invited back to the show four years later on June 1969. This time, a more grown Lesley sang “I Could’ve Danced All Night” from the Broadway classic My Fair Lady and a cover of Aretha Frankiln’s “Natural Woman.” On April 26th, 1970, Lesley made one last appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show with “Cry Me A River” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Lesley Gore’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show were key in transmitting her stance as a role model for millions of teenage girls across the country.
By the end of the 1960’s, the psychedelic music scene was making its way in, and Gore slowed her career down as she continued her higher education at Sarah Lawrence College. After college, as the 1970’s progressed, Lesley Gore began to explore other creative avenues and moved out of the spotlight to pursue songwriting. In 1972, Gore released a new album since 1967. Entitled Someplace Else Now, which reflected her evolution as a songwriter and as person. She followed it with Love Me By Name in 1976 and The Canvas Can Do Miracles in 1982. She also composed songs for the 1980 film Fame, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for “Out Here on My Own,” co-written with her brother Michael.
Not only does Lesley Gore hold an important place in music history and pop culture, but she also played a key role as an activist for women’s rights and gay issues. Most recently, Gore had been working on a stage adaptation of her life.
Lesley Gore was undoubtedly an icon to young women in the 1960s with hits that expressed the frustrations of being a teenager. “It’s My Party” remains popular to this day and “You Don’t Own Me” still holds lessons for girls in the 21st century. SOFA Entertainment loved her dearly and until very recently kept a close and special relationship with her. She will be greatly missed but the legacy of her music will continue to live on for decades to come.