It’s My Party And I’ll Die If I Want To

Lesley Gore, beloved teen idol of the 1960s, is no more. The hit-making singer, who died on February 16th at a rather young 68 years old, was one of the originators of the concept of teen pop (a.k.a. she very much blazed the trail for the Mickey Mouse Club generation of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, et. al.). Her number one single, “It’s My Party,” went gold when she was just sixteen, paving the way for a successful string of other hits that included, “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “You Don’t Own Me” and “That’s the Way Boys Are.”

Young & vibrant
Young & vibrant

The ultimate irony in all of Gore’s teeny-bopper, boy-mourning songs, of course, is that she was a lesbian (a fact she publicly stated in 2005 after being with the same woman for twenty-three years). Throughout her prosperous recording career in the 1960s, Gore continued her education by attending Sarah Lawrence College, where her music was unappreciated by this specific demographic, fonder, instead, of the folk music scene helmed by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.

Teen queen
Teen queen

With the shift in the music that took place at the end of the 60s and 70s, there seemed no viable place for Gore’s particular brand of pop music style. Nonetheless, she continued making music until the very end of her life, with her final album, Ever Since, being released in 2005. Regardless of her occasional periods out of the limelight, Gore remained–and will endure as–an iconic part of pop culture history.

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