Gore was 16 when she recorded this song, which led the media to call her "The Teen Queen." She took some voice lessons in New York City and recorded some piano demos with her instructor, which somehow got to Quincy Jones - at the time an up-and-coming producer.
Jones liked what he heard and decided to record her. In late February 1963, he brought a stack of demo tapes to her house and they spent an afternoon listening to one after another. The only one they both liked was "It's My Party," so they decided to record it.
Jones booked a standard 3-hour session at Bell Studios in New York City, and had Paul Anka write two more songs for Gore to record. They completed all three at the session on March 30, and Gore went back to ordinary teenage life. Just six days later, "Party" was released as Gore's first single, and she heard it on the radio for the first time. On June 1 the song went to #1, making her teenage life far less ordinary.
In the tale of this song, the lead character's birthday party does not turn out to be the happy occasion she thought it would be. In the middle of the party, her boyfriend Johnny departs with a girl named Judy. Since it's her party, she feels she has every right to cry.
Gore almost missed out on her party, as after she recorded the song with Quincy Jones, Jones went to an event at Carnegie Hall where he ran into Phil Spector, who told him about a great song he was planning to record with his group The Crystals: "It's My Party."
Jones didn't mention that he had recorded the song that day, but the following Monday, he picked up the tape from the recording studio and had 100 copies pressed, which he sent to the top 100 radio stations in America. The song was rush-released and quickly climbed the charts. The Crystals never did record the song.
This was recorded using 4-track technology, which meant you needed to record a bunch of musicians at once. As Gore remembers it, there were about 15 musicians in the studio with two microphones hung overhead. There were about eight backup singers around another microphone, and she was in the booth. Two of the four tracks were for the band, another for the backup singer, and the fourth for Leslie's vocals. It took them about three hours to do four songs.
Gore's second single, "Judy's Turn to Cry," is a sequel to this song which told the story of the lead character forgiving Johnny and reuniting with him.
Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
This was Gore's first single and only #1. She did have big hits with "She's A Fool" and "You Don't Own Me," but her chart success tapered off in the mid-'60s and her last Top 40 was "California Nights" in 1967.
Some Lesley Gore trivia: On the TV series Batman, she played Pussycat, who was Catwoman's version of Robin, but more evil. Also, she came out as a lesbian in 2005.
For a huge hit song, this one has some pretty obscure writers. It was composed by John Gluck, Wally Gold and Herb Weiner, who were staff writers at a music agency. The first to record the song was Helen Shapiro, but her version was relegated to an album cut.
It seems odd that an esteemed producer like Quincy Jones would play demos tapes for a teenager and get her input on which one to record, but it's what makes Jones such an appealing collaborator - he knew if Gore wasn't onboard with the song, he would have a hard time coaxing a great performance out of her.
Gore was driving when she heard this song on the radio for the first time. She had never heard her voice through a car radio before, and didn't recognize it as her. "I said to myself, 'Wow, somebody else has recorded by song," she told Performing Songwriter.
As she was singing along, Gore realized that it was indeed her song. She drove a quick two blocks to her friend's house, honked for her to come out, and listened to the end of the song with her pal.
The lyrical phrase, "It's my party, I'll cry if I want to," has been referenced by a number of singers and rappers. Drake, for instance sings, "It's my birthday, I'll get high if I want to," on his 2011 song "Take Care
" and Icona Pop nodded to the track on their single, "My Party
." Even The Beatles sung of not wanting to spoil the party
The song was written by freelance song writer Seymour Gottlieb with John Gluck, Wally Gold and Herb Weiner, who were all staff writers employed at the Aaron Schroeder Music firm. Gottlieb's lyrics were based on actual events relating to his daughter Judy's sweet 16 party. Judy recalled to the New York Daily News in 2015. "My parents insisted that my grandparents had to be invited. I of course, being a bratty teenager, said I didn't want them there. I burst into tears, and my father said, 'Don't cry.'"
She responded by exclaiming: "It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to."