Peterson in 1998
|Born||April 23, 1939|
Denton, Texas, U.S.
|Died||January 25, 2005 (aged 65)|
Smyrna, Tennessee, U.S.
|Genres||Traditional pop, country, rock and roll, rockabilly|
|Labels||RCA Victor, Dunes Records|
Ray T. Peterson was born in Denton, Texas on April 23, 1935. As a boy he had polio. 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. 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. 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". 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.
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 with "Corrine, Corrina". Peterson's dramatic ballad, "I Could Have Loved You So Well", written by Barry Mann and Gerry Goffin and produced by Spector, only reached #57 on the U.S. chart. He then tried another death disc, "Give Us Your Blessing", 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". 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 oldies 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 cancer in 2005, in Smyrna, Tennessee, aged 65. He left a widow, four sons, and three daughters. He was interred in the Roselawn Memorial Gardens cemetery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
|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||RCA Victor|
|"Answer Me"||-||-||47||-||RCA Victor|
("Corrine, Corrina" in UK)
|1961||"Sweet Little Kathy"||100||-||-||-||Dunes|
|"I Could Have Loved You so Well"||57||-||-||35||Dunes|
|1963||"Give Us Your Blessing"||70||-||-||-||Dunes|
|1964||"The Wonder of You"||70||--||-||-||Dunes|
|1965||"Across The Street (Is a Million Miles Away)"||106||-||-||16||M.G.M|
|1970||"Oklahoma City Times"||111||-||-||-||UNI|
- Laing, Dave (1 February 2005). "Obituary: Ray Peterson". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
- "Biography by Jason Ankeny". AllMusic. Retrieved March 29, 2009.
- #7 on June 27, 1960
- 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.
- "Tell Laura I Love Her by Ray Peterson Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
- "RAB Hall of Fame: Ray Peterson". Rockabillyhall.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
- #9 on December 19, 1960; produced by Spector; cover of a 1931 Red Nichols hit
- "Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil - Official Website - Music - Discography". Mann-weil.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
- #29 on June 29, 1961
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 424. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.