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Ray Peterson

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Ray Peterson
Peterson in 1998
Peterson in 1998
Background information
Birth nameRay T. Peterson[1]
Born(1935-04-23)April 23, 1935
Denton, Texas, U.S.
DiedJanuary 25, 2005(2005-01-25) (aged 69)
Smyrna, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresTraditional pop, country, rock and roll, rockabilly
Years active1958–2004
LabelsRCA Victor, Dunes Records

Ray Peterson (April 23, 1935 – January 25, 2005)[1] was an American pop singer who is best remembered for singing "Tell Laura I Love Her". He also scored numerous other hits, including "Corrine, Corrina" and "The Wonder of You".

Life and career


Ray T. Peterson was born in Denton, Texas on April 23, 1935.[1] At the time of his death, sources gave 1939 as his year of birth.[2] As a boy he had polio.[1] Having a four-octave singing voice, Peterson moved to Los Angeles, California, where he was signed to a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1958.[1] He recorded several songs that were minor hits until "The Wonder of You" made it into the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart on June 15, 1959. The song also did well in Australia, stopping at #9 on its chart.[1] The song would later be recorded by Elvis Presley, with whom Peterson became friends. Peterson scored a Top 10 hit with the teenage tragedy song, "Tell Laura I Love Her".[3] In the UK, Decca Records made the decision not to release the latter recording on the grounds that it was "too tasteless and vulgar," and destroyed about twenty thousand copies that had already been pressed. A cover version by Ricky Valance, released by EMI on the Columbia label, was Number One on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks.[4][5]

In 1960, Peterson created his own record label with his manager Stan Shulman, called Dunes Records, and enlisted the help of record producer Phil Spector[6] with "Corrine, Corrina".[2][7] Peterson's dramatic ballad, "I Could Have Loved You So Well", written by Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin[8] and produced by Spector,[citation needed] only reached #57 on the U.S. chart.[9] He then tried another death disc, "Give Us Your Blessing",[2] but this time the record only made #70 in the Hot-100. (The later song was covered by the Shangri-Las five years later and became a Top 30 hit.)

His last charting US-Top-30 hit was "Missing You".[10] By the mid-1960s he had become something of a phenomenon on the west coast of the United States, appearing live in numerous concerts with Keith Allison.

His performances at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, produced by Fred Vail, beginning in 1963 helped fuel a revival of "The Wonder of You", as well as launching his new relationship with MGM Records, an alliance that produced two albums: The Very Best of Ray Peterson which featured most of the Dunes singles, and The Other Side of Ray Peterson, which included many of his nightclub songs. He later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and by the 1970s when the hit records stopped coming, Peterson became a Baptist Church minister and occasionally played the classic hits music circuit. In 1981 he released a Christian folk rock album called Highest Flight, which was also released as My Father's Place.

Peterson was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Peterson died of colon cancer on January 25, 2005, in Smyrna, Tennessee, aged 69.[1] He left a widow, four sons, and three daughters.[2] For publicity reasons, he had shaved four years off his age, leading many sources to list his age as 65. He was interred in the Roselawn Memorial Gardens cemetery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.




Year Single Chart Positions Label
UK[11] AU CAN[12]
1958 "Shirley Purley" - - - - 33 RCA Victor
1959 "The Wonder of You" 25 - 23 9 - RCA Victor
"Goodnight My Love (Pleasant Dreams)" 64 - - 63 - RCA Victor
"Come and Get It" - - - 96 - RCA Victor
1960 "Tell Laura I Love Her" 7 - - 7 4 RCA Victor
"Answer Me" - - 47 - - RCA Victor
"Corinna, Corinna"
("Corrine, Corrina" in UK)
9 - 41 10 3 Dunes
1961 "Sweet Little Kathy" 100 - - - - Dunes
"Missing You" 29 7 - 16[A] 6 Dunes
"I Could Have Loved You so Well" 57 - - 35 - Dunes
1963 "Give Us Your Blessing" 70 - - - - Dunes
1964 "The Wonder of You" 70 -- - - 23 Dunes
1965 "Across The Street (Is a Million Miles Away)" 106 - - 16 - M.G.M
1970 "Oklahoma City Times" 111 - - - - UNI
  • A ^ Charted as a double A-side in Australia, backed with "You Thrill Me".

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography by Jason Ankeny". AllMusic. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Laing, Dave (1 February 2005). "Obituary: Ray Peterson". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  3. ^ #7 on June 27, 1960
  4. ^ Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 53. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  5. ^ "Tell Laura I Love Her by Ray Peterson Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  6. ^ "RAB Hall of Fame: Ray Peterson". Rockabillyhall.com. Archived from the original on 15 January 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  7. ^ #9 on December 19, 1960; produced by Spector; cover of a 1931 Red Nichols hit
  8. ^ "Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil - Official Website - Music - Discography". Mann-weil.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Ray Peterson. I Could Have Loved You So Well". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  10. ^ #29 on June 29, 1961
  11. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 424. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  12. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade results".