Ray Peterson Biography

23 April 1939, Denton, Texas, USA, d. 25 January 2005, Smyrna, Tennessee, USA. Peterson entertained other patients with his singing during lengthy treatment for polio in the Texas Warm Springs Foundation Hospital. On discharge, he performed in local clubs before moving to Los Angeles where he was spotted by manager Stan Shulman who procured an RCA - Victor Records recording contract. ‘Let’s Try Romance’ (1958) paved the way for further failures in ‘Tail Light’, a cover of the Little Willie John hit ‘Fever’ and the up-tempo ‘Shirley Purley’. However, Peterson came up trumps with ‘The Wonder Of You’ (later a million-seller for Elvis Presley) in the US and UK Top 30 charts in 1959 and had a minor UK hit a year later with ‘Answer Me’. In 1960, he swept into the US Top 10 with the original version of Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh’s car crash epic ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ - which financed the foundation of Dunes, Peterson’s own record company. Its flagship acts were Curtis Lee - and Peterson himself who was successful with the traditional ‘Corinna, Corinna’, ‘Missing You’ (a Gerry Goffin / Carole King ballad), and ‘I Could Have Loved You So Well’ (1961). On transferring to MGM Records, he attempted to rise anew as a country and western star after a pop chart swansong in 1963 with ‘Give Us Your Blessing’. Peterson later became a Baptist minister but continued to perform on the oldies circuit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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