I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of Lesley Gore is rather limited. Like most people, I am most familiar with a couple of songs she recorded before the age of eighteen: “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me.” These songs were not only smash hits at the time but they have endured and given Lesley Gore a lasting name. Yet in evaluating the career of Ms. Gore, we are faced with somewhat of a conundrum. She had no successful albums over the course of her career–and a couple of her planned albums even in her period of peak popularity were cancelled. Not only that, but she represents a particularly important musician in two areas of music that have not generally drawn a great deal of favorable attention from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, namely as a teen artist and as a discreet longtime LGBT artist . Given the frequency in which her work was appropriate for the gay rights movement in various films and television work towards the end of her life and beyond, it seems impossible to ignore both the beginning and end of her career and ponder her own importance as a trailblazer in music that showed a certain defiant spirit about being used and taken advantage of.
The Influence Of Lesley Gore
The cultural influence of Lesley Gore is a more subtle influence than is often the case. Her hit songs, especially her most conspicuous hits, showed an attitude of a young woman who was determined to be in control of her own life, giving teen pop an edge that it has not usually possessed even as it was accessible enough not to reach popular success. In general, her influence is as an example of a female artist who is concerned about portraying an image that is of a capable if emotional woman, and that is an image that was furthered by generations of female pop stars who had similar feelings about girl power and a similar desire to be honest about their relationships and emotional lives. Her other area of influence, especially marked towards the end of her life and beyond, is as an example to the LGBT community of an artist who was able to navigate cultural trends and hold her own in a culture that was not very favorable to her without being particularly hidden about her behavior .
Why Lesley Gore Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
During the course of her career, Lesley Gore was known primarily as a singles singer. Among her more notable hit songs are “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” “She’s A Fool,” “That’s The Way Boys Are,” “I Don’t Want To Be A Loser,” “Maybe I Know,” “Look Of Love,” “Sunshine, Lollipops, And Rainbows,” and “California Nights .” Without a question her music has endured, which is all the more striking considering she never caught on as an album musician. Later in her career she released well-regarded albums like Love Me By Name and Ever Since, but none of her albums were particular commercial successes. Her reputation stands on her songs and her identity. Among the bands that have claimed the influence of Lesley Gore are Blake Morgan, Electra, Masquer, Egg, and the Barbarians. She is clearly an artist who has not been forgotten with the passage of time .
Why Lesley Gore Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
For whatever reason, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been slow to induct artists primarily known for their work as teenagers, female artists in general, and LGBT musicians. Lesley Gore meets all of those standards, and whether or not one considers this to be just, particularly in light of the enduring importance of her songs, there are plenty of reasons in the larger context of the induction policies of the RRHOF why Lesley Gore is not inducted. If artists like Connie Francis and Barbra Streisand are not inducted, and neither is, shockingly, it ought not to be too surprising that Lesley Gore has been ignored thus far. What is not surprising is that this snub has drawn quite a bit of attention of people who do remember her and her music fondly.
Verdict: Put her in. She certainly is an important enough artist to be remembered.
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