'It's My Party' singer Lesley Gore dies at 68

NEW YORK (AFP) - Lesley Gore, who became a breakthrough teen star with her 1963 hit It's My Party and emerged as an early feminist in pop music, died on Feb 16. She was 68.

Her death was announced by her longtime partner, jewellery designer Lois Sasson, who said that Gore died from lung cancer at a New York City hospital.

Gore, born as Lesley Goldstein, was a middle-class teenager when, as legend has it, one of her recordings from a voice lesson in New York found its way to legendary producer Quincy Jones. Jones was soon visiting her family home in New Jersey and persuaded her to sing It's My Party, which had already been recorded as a minor track by the English jazz singer Helen Shapiro.

It's My Party evoked the dating scene in the conservative post-World War II era and turned the 16-year-old into a pop sensation well before the concept of a teenybopper star was mainstream. The lyrics to the song - "It's my party / And I'll cry if I want to / You would cry, too, if it happened to you" - have become quotable for generations of Americans charmed by the song's tale of a girl stood up by a boyfriend who leaves with "Judy."

Gore soon afterward scored another hit with You Don't Own Me, in which the teenager demanded of her partner: "Don't tell me what to do / And don't tell me what to say / And please, when I go out with you, don't put me on display." The song, later covered by Dusty Springfield and by a trio including Bette Midler in the movie The First Wives Club, was unusually forthright in an era long before Beyonce and other successful women in music have embraced feminism.

In a 2005 interview, Gore said that unlike Hollywood, the music industry has "always been a man's world." "It's always been a patriarchal situation, and it always puts women, not necessarily down, but certainly on a lower rung," she told AfterEllen, an online entertainment publication.

Gore also made cameo appearances on the "Batman" television series of the 1960s and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the music to the 1980 film "Fame" with her brother Michael Gore. In 2005 she released a comeback album, Ever Since.