Song: “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore
Reached #1: June 1, 1963 (her first, 2 weeks)
The story of how this got to be a Lesley Gore single is a microcosm of how the record industry worked in the early ‘60s.
The demo was circulating around the studios in 1962, and was heard (and recorded) by at least three acts. Helen Shapiro recorded it, but her camp didn’t think of it as a single, so it landed on her October 1963 album (where it came off as a cover of Gore’s #1 hit). Phil Spector heard it, and went to work on a version of the song with the Crystals (who actually didn’t sing on it – studio backing group the Blossoms did – that’s a story worth looking into). And a young producer named Quincy Jones heard it, and brought the demo along with a stack of options for Lesley Gore’s debut single. When Jones and Gore went through the pile, they agreed on only one song. So they recorded it.
Fast forward to March 30, 1963, when Spector and Jones happened to cross paths at a concert in New York. Spector mentioned that he’d just finished up his Crystals/Blossoms version of “It’s My Party”. Jones didn’t. He also didn’t stay at the concert. Instead, he spent the night making copies of Gore’s version so he could mail them out over the next few days. The rush release was so fast, there wasn’t time to give Gore a stage name… or for Jones to reschedule business outside the country. When Jones came back, he bemoaned the lack of a name change – the studio replied that the song was #1, so obviously her name wasn’t going to be a problem.
Gore was 16 when “It’s My Party” was released. By the time she was 23, the bulk of her recording career was done – although she’s continued to tour and write songs ever since. Gore came out as gay in 2005, during the interviews following her first new album in 30 years.
Tomorrow, a band that would later hit #1 by singing about love songs hits #1 by singing a love song.
Other songs that reached #1 on June 1:
1959 – “The Battle Of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton (his first, 6 weeks)
1968 – “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (their second, 3 weeks)