Ray Peterson (April 23, 1935 – January 25, 2005) was an American pop music singer who was best remembered for singing "Tell Laura I Love Her" and "Corinna, Corinna" in the 1960s.
Ray T.Peterson was born in Denton, Texas on April 23, 1935. As a boy he had to overcome polio. He was told he would never walk again, but miraculously that was not the case, and he was left with only a slight limp. In later life, he even became an accomplished golfer. It was while he was being treated for polio at Warm Springs Foundation Hospital in Texas, that Ray began to sing to amuse himself and the other patients. When he was finally released, he began to work in local clubs before moving to Los Angeles, where he met longtime manager Stan Shulman.
Ray Peterson's remarkable 4-1/2-octave voice intrigued executives at RCA Records and they signed the singer in 1957. His first single was an unusual, almost gospel version of the Little Willie John 1956 hit, "Fever" that fell somewhere between the bluesy John arrangement and the later, sexier take by Peggy Lee.
"Fever" cooled in the marketplace and a new single "Let's Try Romance"/"Shirley Purly" was issued, but also found little response. Despite the lack of interest in Ray's early records, he remained with RCA and finally scored his first hit with his seventh single "The Wonder Of You". It was a gentle ballad written by veteran Baker Knight, and became a Top 30 success in the summer of 1959. Elvis Presley was so taken with Ray's heartwarming rendition that he called Ray and asked if he too could record it. A very flattered Ray Peterson told Elvis that he didn't have to ask - he was Elvis Presley. Elvis replied, "Yes I do - you are Ray Peterson". "The Wonder of You" became a Top 10 hit for Elvis in 1970.
Another minor hit, "Answer Me," followed before Peterson scored his greatest success with the 1960 epic "Tell Laura I Love Her." The record's popularity allowed the singer to fund his own label, Dunes, and he soon recruited producer Phil 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..
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 launch his new relationship with MGM Records, an alliance that produced two albums, "The Very Best of Ray Peterson" featuring 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. Although ill the last couple of years, he still performed whenever he could.
Ray Peterson passed away at his home in Smyrna, Tennessee, at the age of 65, in January 2005, after battling cancer and pneumonia. He left a widow and four sons and three daughters. He was interred in the Roselawn Memorial Gardens cemetery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
(info edited from Wikipedia & rockabillyhall.com)