In 1963, a 16-year-old high school junior recorded a song which instantly became the anthem for a generation of teenage girls. It’s My Party was Lesley Gore’s very first recording, and rocketed to the top of the charts, reaching #1, and selling over one million copies. The disc achieved Gold Record status, earned a Grammy nomination and launched the career of one of the most recognized teen pop singers of the 1960s. And this season, The Fabulous Palm Springs welcomes Lesley Gore for the first time to the stage of the historic Plaza Theatre.
Born in New York City in 1946 and raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, Gore was discovered by famed record producer Quincy Jones. Her first smash hit was quickly followed by a string of other Jones-produced chart-toppers, including That's the Way Boys Are, Maybe I Know, The Look of Love and Judy’s Turn To Cry. Her proto-feminist anthem You Don’t Own Me held the #2 spot on the charts for four weeks behind The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand, and earned Gore her second Gold Record.
Gore headlined the 1964 concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show (Teen Awards Music International), along with James Brown, Chuck Berry, The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and The Rolling Stones. Considered by some as one of the very best rock-and-roll movies ever made, it was filmed at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, played movie theaters nationwide, and just last year aired on PBS.
Gore’s Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows from the 1965 movie Ski Party, brought her a second Grammy nomination for Contemporary Rock and Roll female vocal performance.
Television and movie contracts followed, but Gore chose instead to attend Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Nonetheless, her popularity continued and, in 1967, she guest-starred as “Pussycat,” one of Catwoman's minions, in two episodes of the Batman TV series in which she sang her hit, California Nights.
Throughout the following decades Gore continued performing. She also kept busy writing, including composing songs for the soundtrack of the 1980 film Fame. Gore received an Academy Award nomination for that film’s Out Here on My Own, written with her brother Michael. The song was a Top 20 hit for Irene Cara.
In 2005, the singer-songwriter recorded her first album of new material since 1976 entitled Ever Since. Songs from that album have been used in major television shows and films, including CSI:Miami, The L Word and Flannel Pajamas. She continues writing, and an autobiographical musical is one of her current projects.
“You know what I say when people ask me what I’ve been doing for the past 30 years?” With a wry smile, she states, “Practicing.” And when Lesley Gore steps onto the Plaza Theatre’s stage, Follies audiences know it was time well spent--her powerful voice and catalogue of hit songs reflect the hard-won wisdom of time.