Today we take a little detour off the beaten path on our Rock and Roll journey. Submitted for your consideration is the tale of little Lesley Sue Goldstein. Her professional name is of course Lesley Gore. Lesley was a petite beauty with a giant voice. Her records were produced by Quincy Jones...the same guy who produced Michael Jackson years later.
Lesley was born in Brooklyn, NY, on May 2, 1946. Her parents were Ronny and Leo Goldstein. Leo owned Peter Pan, a manufacturer of children's swimwear and underwear. Leo later became a leading brand licensing agent in the apparel industry. Lesley grew up in Tenafly, NJ.
While Leslie was 16 years old and in High School she recorded her first big hit "It's My Party" a story song about a teenaged girl's birthday party and seeing her boyfriend, Johnny, two-timing her with that Jezebel, Judy. Lesley's next hit was a sequel to the first, "Judy's Turn to Cry" where Johnny comes to his senses and comes back to Leslie. Teen aged angst at it's best. This was fairly racy stuff for the early 1960's.
Lesley's other hits included a kind of declaration of independence song, "You Don't Own Me" where she fires the first shot of the feminist movement, although she didn't know it at the time.
Lesley also sang about loving a boy even though she knows that he's cheating on her. "Maybe I Know" pledged her love to the two-timer notwithstanding his unfaithfulness.
Lesley had other hits like the optimistic "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" which has become a cliche to describe "pie in the sky, unrealistic expectations."
Lesley continues to sing and record. She also wrote songs and was Oscar nominated for one of the songs she wrote for the movie 1980 Fame, "Out Here on My Own."
In her later years Lesley became an activist and promoted the LGBT community. Leslie died of Lung Cancer on February 16th of this year. Lesley Gore did not have very many hits, but those that she did have were significant to a young boy growing up in the 1960's.
My group for this blog post comes from the south. This band was formed in 1968 in Jacksonville, FL, first under the name "My Back Yard," then as "The Noble Five" but you know them as "Lynyrd Skynyrd." The band's name was a mocking tribute to their High School Physical Education teacher, Mr. Leonard Skinner. Skinner had a notorious reputation of enforcing the school's policy against long hair.
By 1970 the band became the top band in the Jacksonville area. Between 1970 and 1972 the band toured throughout the south honing their skills, sometimes headlining their shows and other times opening for nationally known acts.
Their first album, "Lynyrd Skynyrd", was released in August 1973 and contained the hits "A Simple Man" and "Freebird" the band's most requested song.
The band developed a nationwide following greatly expanding their fan base when they toured with the Who on their Quadrophenia Tour.
The band released their second album in 1974. This album contained the hit "Sweet Home Alabama," a song supposedly made in response to Neil Young's "Southern Man." Despite these competing songs there was no animosity between the band and Neil Young. In fact they were fans of each other's music and were good friends.
Throughout 1975 to 1977, the band continued to tour and release records. Their most notable songs being "That Smell," a cautionary tail of the perils of drug addiction which members struggled with from time to time, and "What's Your Name?" a song about life on the road.
In 1977 the band had just finished playing in Greenville, South Carolina. They boarded a chartered plane enroute to Baton Rouge, LA. The plane developed engine trouble, ran out of gas and crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Both pilots and several members of the band, including their lead singer, Ronnie Van Zandt, were killed. Those that survived had serious injuries. The band disbanded after the crash.
Everyone thought that they had heard the last from Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, in 1987 the surviving members reformed the band and breathed new life into the group. Ronnie's younger brother, Johnny Van Zandt assumed the lead singer role. The band literally rose up from the ashes and are still rocking today being true to the music that they are famous for.