When Quincy met Lesley

The 1960’s were  so rich with innovation, creativity and originality, we all have our personal “Top 10 “lists of the Greatest records ever” However, there are a rare few that transcend the rest, are loved by everyone and endure time, trends, criticism and history’s fickle eye ! “It’s My Party ” is one of those records ! It’s My Party ” successfully mixed styles, genre’s and generations while delivering a huge  dose of ” Teen Angst ” resulting in a record nobody could resist. Produced and performed by one of music’s first “Odd Couples.” In 1963 Quincy Jones had a successful career as a trumpet player in his big band, when Mercury records, in NYC  approached him and appointed him Vice President of A & R ! A bold move in 1963 ! With the exception of Barry Gordy’s Motown label,  Quincy would be the first African-American to head a record Company. But Quincy had tremendous talent, ambition and desire to look beyond his race and history in Jazz and make records that appealed to a mass audience. Meanwhile across town in Brooklyn is a fifteen year old junior in High School, Lesley Sue Goldstein….Lesley Gore! No contacts or relationships with anyone in the music business, just a powerful desire to sing. Lesley’s vocal coach insisted on recording Lesley to help her develop and created a tape with Lesley singing as a kind of demo. It turns out Lesley’s coach was friends with Quincy, and, YES….He hears Quincy’s looking for talent and immediately delivers her tape to Quincy’s office. The next day Quincy is on the phone with Lesley and by the end of the week Lesley is signed to Mercury Records, and the search begins for the perfect song to launch Lesley Gore !

According to Lesley it was an arduous process, each day she and Quincy would meet in the den of her family’s home and listen to hundreds of songs….” It’s My Party “was chosen by default. In Lesley’s den  there was a pile of songs marked “Maybe” and another pile marked “NO! ” It’s My Party was the ONLY song she and Quincy agreed could be a “Maybe” neither LOVED it !

And now, arrangements and rehearsals begin, but it’s important to consider that at the same time Lesley is a high school girl struggling for good grades  as well as her growing awareness of her Homosexuality.  Yes, Lesley was gay ! But on March 30, 1963 she and Quincy went into Bell studios in NYC  and cut what Quincy was sure was a number one record.  Until the next night when Quincy attended a concert by Charles  Aznavour, before the show Quincy ran into Phil Spector, as the two chatted Quincy inquired about what Phil was working on ? To Quincy’s surprise and horror Phil replied saying ” I just cut a number one with my girls The Crystals “..( you know what’s coming ) ” It’s a great song called It’s My Party”…..OMG ! Quincy immediately and politely excused himself before the show started and fled to Bell Sound studios and worked all night mastering and pressing 100 copies which he shipped to every major radio programmer in the country. By the end of the next week “It’s my Party” was on the radio all over the U.S.  A few weeks later, it was NUMBER ONE !
But that was only the incredible beginning, Quincy and Lesley were so confident, they began working on their sequel before ” Party ” peaked. In fact nearly and only two months from the release of ” Party ” the pair released their second SMASH…..”Judy’s Turn To Cry” maintained the momentum with the same powerful mix of Quincy’s Big Band horns that punctuated every line of lyric and the behemoth drum sounds with a snare drum that cracked like a big whip ! All of it in support of the unique, smooth, warm, ” Girl next door ” sincerity only Leslie Gore could deliver ! Even as ” My Party ” was selling like a runaway train on its way to the Gold certification of ONE MILLION RECORDS, we were all at the record store buying up copies of ” Judy’s Turn To Cry ” But this is where it goes from amazing success to a Phenomenon ! Remember ? Without hesitation Quincy and Lesley are in the studio working on “She’s A Fool, ” Maybe I Know, “… ” That’s The Way Boy’s Are ” and Their anthem for every Woman’s right’s movement from that day on, the plaintive ” You Don’t Own Me ” All of them certified gold and all recorded and released in less than 24 months, while Leslie is only in her mid teens ! Simply Stunning!
As the 60’s unfolded both artists were looking for change, Quincy ser his sights on writing and arranging for films, including the scores to “The Pawnbroker ” ” In The Heat Of The Night ” In Cold Blood ” and “Bob And Catole And Ted And Alice ” and soon became the most sought after film composer in the world ! But you are most familiar with his work with Michael Jackson, by taking a successful artist to a new stratosphere of success, producing “Off The Wall” “Bad” and “Thriller” for Michael Jackson. Lesley continued making records and having hits, Remember “Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows ” California Nights ” and “Look Of Love” ? Leslie Gore, working with other producers, like Marvin Hamlisch. Lesley began writing more and in the late 70’s received an Academy Award nomination for a song she wrote for the film “Fame ”
Like we said, Quincy and Leslie were an odd pairing, but there is no debate that their partnership is one where they each made each other a SUPERSTARS…
Here’s a rare live version of The great, “It’s My Party…

Meanwhile, we believe that there is NO WAY you didn’t own at least one Leslie Gore record….Sooooo, which one was it ?
We owned all of ’em !…


  1. I still remember how my best friend at the time, Kathy, and I would hold our hair brushes like microphones and sing “It’s My Party”. Great songs and memories! Interesting to hear she was with Quincy at the time. Thanks again for some great info!

    • Hey Jules,
      Sooo glad you enjoyed the piece, I certainly got a kick out of your comment !
      Meanwhile, if you read some of her early interviews, she talks about “Holding her hairbrush like a microphone and singing along with her records….. ‘Cept she was pretending to be Billie Holiday !
      Thanx Jules, Great image !

  2. Well, I wasn’t around to buy singles in the sixties…But if I had been, I would have definitely bought “Maybe I know” “She’s a Fool” and “You Don’t Own Me”…Maybe more if the budget permitted.

    Fun anecdote: Whatever year Quincy’s Box Set was released I heard him being interviewed on the radio and he said he had only worked with two singers who had perfect pitch. One was Lesley Gore. The other one was Frank Sinatra. That’s the last time I ever underestimated HER.

    • Hey John,
      Great story about Quincy, hadn’t heard that…
      Meanwhile, if you listen closely to the live recording of Lesley she hits a few “Clams” But I suppose it’s pretty difficult not to during a live show in 1966……Ya gotta believe quality monitors were non existent !
      Thanx John,

  3. Great stuff once again my brother!!
    It’s so great you get this stuff out there for all of us to enjoy

    Your little brother in Texas

    • Hey Bro,
      Thanx, glad your “picking up what we’re putting down……BTW, That cute little “Fins up” graphic wasn’t lost on us !…..NICE !
      Your big brother in Glitter City !…

  4. Hey Fred,
    That’s why we’re here ! Or something like that !
    Hope you liked the post !

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