I’ve been deeply saddened at the death of the lovely Lesley Gore. The obituary appeared today, Sunday, 2/22, but I think she died last week. Surprisingly, she died of lung cancer, even though she was a non-smoker–a bit more than a century ago, lung cancer was as rare as dog-feathers. When smoking came in the incidence of the disease skyrocketed.
But I remember a young Lesley Gore, singing songs of teenage angst–It’s My Party, Judy’s Turn to Cry, and You Don’t Own Me. Another one brings to mind a story by Sandy Duncan, which she told on the old Johnny Carson show. Sandy went in to audition for
. They asked her to sing a rock song, and she sang another Gore song: Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. She swayed in time to the music and snapped her fingers. The expressions on the faces of the directors and producers of Hair are, I think, best left to the imagination. Sandy didn’t get the part.
When someone like Lesley dies, I feel a sense of personal loss. I know that’s strange, but listening to someone’s music is in many ways more intimate than talking in a conversation. When I perform, a great deal more than breath gets expended. For example, playing at Kam’s in 1967-68 wore me out, so that I’d be tired, indeed exhausted, yet unable to go to sleep. So we’d go out to breakfast, and eat until we felt we could sleep. This was tough when I’d have an early class the next morning, so where I could, I’d schedule classes that met later in the a. m.
R.I.P., beautiful Leslie. You earned it.