Gary James' Interview With
Lesley Gore

She was only 16 years old when she had her first hit record. "It's My Party" skyrocketed Lesley Gore to fame in 1963.

Other hits followed, including "Judy's Turn To Cry", "Maybe I Know", "That's The Way Boys Are", "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows", "California Nights" and "You Don't Own Me".

Q - Lesley, you must be famous, because you were profiled on A&E's Biography.

A - (laughs) Oh, you think that's the criteria, huh?

Q - I'm just teasing. I actually thought it was a good idea to spotlight Teen Idols. Were you pleased with the way your story was produced?

A - I was very, very pleased with it. I thought the whole week was very well accepted. I rather liked mine. I kind of sat there watching and sort of didn't know what was gonna come next. It was kind of fun.

Q - Did you receive a lot of calls?

A - Yeah. Oh, a tremendous response.

Q - For years now, I've heard you were attending Syracuse University when "It's My Party" topped the charts. Is that true?

A - No. I had a cousin who went to Syracuse and I was dating someone at Syracuse, but I never attended there.

Q - I loved the sound of your records. Is that all Quincy Jones, or did you have a big input into that?

A - I think it was really a triumvirate of creative people...Quincy being kind of the head guy, the guy at the top of the pyramid. Then, perhaps myself down at the lower left corner, and there was a third guy who was very, very prominent in helping us get that sound and he was the arranger, Klaus Ogerman. So, the way we worked it, Klaus and I spent a lot of time together going through material. We would take what we thought was the best of the crop and kind of put it into my range and do a kind of piano / voice arrangement. Then, we would bring Quincy in and go over it again and see how we felt about those tunes. So, Klaus did a lot of arranging because of my voice and because of where the range was. So, it really was a melding of 3 creative people.

Q - You believe that "You Don't Own Me" was a radical departure from your other songs. Why do you believe that to be the case?

A - I felt a greater connection to the lyric than anything else I had recorded before. So, yeah, I would have to say from my point of view, I felt it was a better song. You take a song like "It's My Party" or "Judy's Turn To Cry"...things almost become dated over the years. "You Don't Own Me" has stood the test of time.

Q - Instead of moving West to California, should you have stayed on the East coast?

A - I didn't actually stay on the East coast. I did move out to California for a number of years in the 70s. I didn't care for it, and came back in 1979.

Q - Where you've been ever since?

A - Where I've been ever since.

Q - What was it like to do that Batman TV show?

A - That was fun. That was a lot of fun. A little slower than I was used to. I actually spent 10 days on the set there, for two episodes. Although I enjoyed the work and it's aired a tremendous amount, it wasn't exciting enough for me. I liked the immediacy of an audience. I like getting up there and really needing to prove yourself and not necessarily of having the option to try it again.

Q - What do you remember about the T.A.M.I. Show that you were a part of?

A - I remember quite a bit about it. What do you want to know?

Q - Let's take The Rolling Stones. Had you seen them before? Had you heard their music?

A - Oh, of course. You would've had to have lived in a prison not to hear The Stones. There were probably about 22 acts on the show. Those were all well-known acts. What really happened on that show is kind of interesting. We did it at the Santa Monica Civic Center. The crowds were just so enormous, the two and three days of rehearsal, that it became virtually impossible to go from the arena back to the hotel. So, most of us just in the arena for two or three days. You just couldn't get out. It was quite a hectic three or four days.

Q - How many records have you sold?

A - I don't know.

Q - Have you ever written your own material?

A - Yes, I have, but, it wasn't until later that I started writing. It was sort of in the 70s and I've continued to write.

Q - Were you still able to chart records in 1967?

A - No. Mercury released me from my contract and I had no recording contract.

Q - Did they give you a reason why?

A - Reason? The records weren't selling. They didn't need a reason. British Invasion...we're finished with you...bye bye.

Q - And how did you survive during those years?

A - Very difficultly as a matter of fact. It was not easy to get gigs and that's when I took myself out of California and started doing some writing and getting into some other aspects of music.

Q - You're still performing these days?

A - Yeah, and I'm still writing. I'm in the process of perhaps starting a screenplay. I've got a couple of things I'm working on.

Q - Would the book be your autobiography?

A - It might be.

Q - Screenplay about the same thing?

A - It might be...

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