NASHVILLE (AP) — Ray Peterson, whose 1960 hit "Tell Laura I Love Her" exemplified the teenage tragedy genre popular in early rock 'n' roll, died on Tuesday at his home in Smyrna, a Nashville suburb. He was 65.
Woodfin Memorial Chapel announced his death. He had cancer.
Mr. Peterson first reached the Top 40 in 1959 with his version of "The Wonder of You," a song that was later also a hit for Elvis Presley. But his signature hit was "Tell Laura I Love Her," which reached No. 7 on the Billboard chart.
The song tells the story of Tommy, who wants to raise $1,000 to buy a wedding ring for his girlfriend, Laura, by entering a stock car race. His car overturns in flames and Tommy is killed.
Mr. Peterson was born in Denton, Tex., and began singing as a child. He had polio and sang to entertain his fellow patients in a Texas hospital.
When he was 18 he moved to Los Angeles and was signed to RCA Records.
Mr. Peterson's last major commercial success was "Corrina, Corrina" in 1960, but he toured for years after.
He opened for the Beach Boys in several countries and was a supporting act on their "Summer Safari" tour of 1964.
Survivors include his wife, Claudia, seven children and nine grandchildren.