RAY PETERSON (By Phil Davies)

Born Raymond Peterson, 23 April 1939, Denton, Texas
Died 25 January 2005, Smyrna, Tennessee

Ray spent much of his childhood recovering from polio, and during an extended stay in a nearby treatment facility he began performing for his fellow patients. As Ray's health returned he began singing profes- sionally in local clubs, eventually relocating to Los Angeles; there he was discovered by manager Stan Shulman, signing to RCA in 1958. The owner of a four-octave voice, Ray's early material ran the gamut from teen ballads like "Let's Try Romance" to covers including "Fever," all to little success; he finally scored a hit in 1959 with "The Wonder of You," which reached the Top 30 in both the U.S. and the U.K. The flip side is the neat rocker I'm Gone, which sounds like Tommy Sands or Ricky shoulda cut it! Elvis had a 1970 UK number one with a live version of Wonder Of You, if only he'd done the flip as well!

Another minor hit, "Answer Me," followed before Peterson scored his greatest success with the 1960 epic "Tell Laura I Love Her." In the UK he lost out to Welshman Ricky Valance's Columbia cover, a number one "one hit" wonder BTW. The record's popularity allowed the singer to fund his own label, Dunes, and he soon recruited producer Spector to helm a smash rendition of the traditional "Corrina Corrina." The Dunes roster also included singer Curtis Lee, for whom Spector produced the 1961 hits "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" and "Under the Moon of Love." Peterson himself went on to cut the Goffin/King-authored "Missing You" and "I Could Have Loved You So Well," but his stardom quickly faded, and after scoring a last minor chart entry with 1963's "Give Us Your Blessing" he signed to MGM in an attempt to cross over to country audiences, ultimately retiring from perfoming as the decade drew to a close. (Thanks to AMG.)

Barely Recommended Listening: Very Best Of Ray Peterson - Point label Canadian boot cd Mixture of RCA and Dunes singles, some in stereo. Some very insipid late 50s early 60s teen pop here. Covers of Jesse Belvin, Emile Ford (!!) and Little Willie John, interspersed with lesser material from Pomus /Shuman, David /Bacharach, Belvin, Spector, Barry/ Greenwich and Baker Knight. The latter's Wonder Of You, the rocking I'm Gone, Belvin's Shurly Purly and the Spector sides make a reasonablish ep. One for Spector/Elvis pervs only I reckon. This write up means I've now played the cd twice in 3 years! More info: http://www.rockabillyhall.com/RayPeterson.html

 
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