Legendary producer Quincy Jones scored his first Pop/R&B hit today (May 28, 1963), with Lesley Gore‘s hit “It’s My Party.”
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“It’s My Party” was released on Mercury Records, as a personal favor to one of Quincy Jones’s mentors, label boss Irving Green.
It was Irving Green who named Quincy Jones VP of Mercury Records, making him the first black man to hold such a title at a major label.
Quincy had been on a tear, producing records for artists like Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan and others.
But the releases were not making any money for Mercury Records.
One day early in 1963, Irving Green challenged Quincy Jones to produce a Pop hit, since other A&R execs at the label were calling him a “budget buster.”
After plowing through hundreds and hundreds of demo tapes, Quincy Jones finally came across a tape made by a 16-year-old named Lesley Gore, who resided in Long Island.
Quincy and Lesley Gore finally settled on recording a single called “It’s My Party,” with a B-side titled “Danny,” which was written by a 20-year-old songwriter named Paul Anka.
What happened next seems like it could be a scene straight out of a movie.
After attending a concert at Carnegie Hall one night, shortly after cutting “It’s My Party,” he was approached by a young producer named Phil Spector.
“I just cut a smash with The Crystals,” Phil Spector told Quincy Jones. “It’s called ‘It’s My Party.’”
It seems that Phil Spector had heard the “It’s My Party” demo too, so he decided to record it with The Blossoms, although he intended to release the record under the name of The Crystals.
Quincy Jones left the Carnegie Hall concert, and headed to Bell Sound Studios, where he made 100 copies of his version of “It’s My Party” and mailed it to radio programmers in key markets across the United States.
“I licked stamps all weekend and shipped all 100 acetates to radio stations and program directors across the country by Monday,” Quincy Jones recalled in his autobiography “Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones.”
“I had to leave for Japan the following day to score and act in a one hour Japanese television drama,” Quincy Jones recalled.
He was in Japan when he heard the news.
“We didn’t have have time to change Lesley’s name,” Irving Green told Quincy Jones.
“Aren’t we going to have a problem with a last name like Gore?” Quincy Jones asked of the Mercury Records CEO.
“Quince, the record’s number one. Do you really give a damn what her last name is?”
“I can still hear us laughing together,” Quincy Jones said.