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Singer Leslie Gore, a Voice for Teens and Early Feminism, Dies at 68

Leslie Gore who rocketed to fame as a teenager in the 1960s with her hit song 'It's My Party,' died Monday (Feb. 15) at 68.  Her long-time partner said cancer was the cause. (Photo: Getty)

Leslie Gore who rocketed to fame as a teenager in the 1960s with her hit song ‘It’s My Party,’ died Monday (Feb. 15) at 68. Her long-time partner said cancer was the cause. (Photo: Getty)

Leslie Gore, an American singer-songwriter who withstood the British Invasion in music in the 1960s and sang the classic teen anthem “It’s My Party,” has died of cancer, her longtime partner said today. She was 68.

Gore died Monday (Feb. 15) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, her partner Lois Sasson confirmed.

Gore came out as a lesbian in 2005, although she and Sasson had been in a relationship for at least 20 years prior to that.

She shot to the top of the charts at 16, with “It’s My Party,” a break-up song that resonated with teens who were just exploring their own sexuality and relationships.

Composer Quincy Jones discovered Gore and signed to Mercury Records. When “It’s My Party” was released in 1963, it quickly reached No. 1 and sold more than one million copies.

Gore was just a junior at an all-girls school when it became a hit. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in the rock and roll category.

The song contained the classic verse:

Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone
Judy left the same time
Why was he holding her hand
When he’s supposed to be mine?

It was so popular, she followed up with a revenge song titled “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” That song tells the tale of Johnny getting jealous after seeing her “kiss some other guy.”

‘Cause now, it’s Judy’s turn to cry
Judy’s turn to cry, Judy’s turn to cry
‘Cause Johnny’s come back
(Johnny’s come back, come back)
To me

Gore remained popular after attention turned to a slew of English bands that followed The Beatles to America in 1964.

Her follow-up hits included “She’s A Fool,” “That’s the Way Boys Are,” “Maybe I Know” and “You Don’t Own Me.”

The latter was considered one of pop’s first pro-feminist songs and was edged out of the No. 1 spot on the charts by the Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

Although she eventually faded as a pop singer, she remained active composing songs, both solo and with her brother Michael.

They co-wrote the song “Out Here On My Own” from the 1980 movie “Fame.” It was nominated for an Academy Award. Her brother won the Oscar for the movie’s theme song.

She also helped launch composer Marvin Hamlisch by singing his song, “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows.” It was the first of what would be many compositions to follow by the iconic songwriter.

Gore had a brief television career. She appeared in two consecutive episodes of “Batman” in January 1967. She played Pussycat, one of Catwoman’s cohorts and sang on the show.

In 2005, Gore released a full studio album of new material, titled Ever Since. It marked the end of a 30-year hiatus following her album Love Me By Name in 1976. The album was critically acclaimed.

Gore, who was Jewish, was born in New York City and moved shortly afterward to Tenafly, NJ where she was raised.

Check out her classics, “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me,” below. Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest music news.

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