Lesley Gore, the singer of Sixties hits like “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me,” passed away today at a New York City hospital following a bout with cancer. Gore was 68. “She was a wonderful human being – caring, giving, a great feminist, great woman, great human being, great humanitarian,” Gore’s partner Lois Sasson told the Associated Press.
The New Jersey-raised Gore was just a junior in high school when Quincy Jones signed the singer to Mercury Records and produced her first single “It’s My Party.” The song would eventually top the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963 – giving Jones his first smash single as producer – and spawn the quasi-sequel “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” which also sold over a million copies the same year. Amy Winehouse would later cover “It’s My Party” for a Quincy Jones tribute album.
Jones and Gore would team for two more platinum singles in 1963: “She’s a Fool” and the empowering, ahead-of-its-time feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me.” Jones continued to collaborate with Gore until 1966, crafting singles like “Maybe I Know” and “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows.” The following year, Gore would work with songwriting legend Bob Crewe on the track “California Nights” and appear on the TV series Batman as a member of Catwoman’s gang.
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.”
Gore came out to the public when she served as host on a few episodes of the PBS’ LGBT newsmagazine series In the Life. She released her final album Ever Since in 2005.