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"Tell Laura I Love Her", a teenage tragedy song written by Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh, was an American Top Ten popular music hit for singer Ray Peterson in 1960 on RCA Victor Records, reaching #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Later that same year, the song was recorded and released by Ricky Valance in the United Kingdom, where it went all the way to the #1 spot in the UK Singles Chart.[1] "Tell Laura I Love Her" has been a hit in 14 countries, and has sold over seven million copies.[2]

"Tell Laura I Love Her" is the tragic story of a teenage boy named Tommy who is desperately in love with a girl named Laura. Although they are only teenagers, he wants to marry her, so he enters a stock car race, hoping to win, and use the prize money to buy Laura a wedding ring. The second verse tells the mysterious story of how the boy's car overturned and burst into flames—though no-one knows why—and the boy was killed, his last words being "Tell Laura I love her... My love for her will never die." In the final verse, Laura prays inside the chapel, where she can still hear Tommy's voice intoning the title one more time, before it fades out.

Recording history[]

The lyrics of "Tell Laura I Love Her" originally concerned a rodeo, not an automobile race, as composer Jeff Barry was an aficionado of cowboy culture. However, at RCA's instigation Barry rewrote the song, in order to more closely resemble the #1 hit "Teen Angel". The personnel on the original recording included Al Chernet, Charles Macy and Sebastian Mure on guitar, Lloyd Trotman on bass, Andrew Ackers on organ, Bob Burns on sax and Bunny Shawker on drums.

Decca Records in England decided not to release Ray Peterson's 1960 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 No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks.[3][4]

In 1962, Smash Records released an album, The Tale of Patches by Dickey Lee, that included a cover of "Tell Laura I Love Her". A cover version by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers on the album Last Kiss was released on the Josie Records label in 1964. Another cover was recorded by singer Ricky Nelson.

John Leyton attended a singing audition with producer Joe Meek and subsequently recorded the song, which was released on the Top Rank label. At that time, however, Top Rank was undergoing a takeover by EMI, which had already released Ricky Valance's version of the same song. The John Leyton recording was withdrawn from sale.

A decade later, Johnny T. Angel's recording on Bell Records peaked at #94 on June 8, 1974 (US).

Tell Laura was one of 50s revival group Sha Na Na's most popular and beloved numbers, both in concert and on record, with lead vocals by group tenor Johnny Contardo.

The Swedish band the Boppers also released a version on their album Number 1 (1978).[5]

German rock band Rudolf Rock & die Schocker sang their version "Sag' Laura, ich liebe sie".

Mexican artist César Costa recorded a version in Spanish titled "La Historia de Tommy".

The story of the song was adapted for stage and turned into Tell Laura I Love Her (The Musical) in 2007 by Richard C Hague.[6]

Answering lyrics[]

Later on an album named The Answer To Everything - Girl Answer Songs Of The '60'S , an answer song, "Tell Tommy I Miss Him," was performed by Marilyn Michaels. It was originally released by RCA Victor Records on a single as catalog number 47-7771. In 1961, country singer Skeeter Davis released the same song on her album Here's The Answer.

The British singer, Laura Lee with Orchestra directed by Johnny Keating, also recorded a version. It was released by Triumph Records on a single in the UK as catalog number RGM 1030 in August 1960.


1.Jump up ^ "Official Singles Chart UK Top 100 - 5 April 2014". Retrieved 2014-04-04. 2.Jump up ^ "BBC Wales - Music - Ricky Valance". 2009-07-08. Retrieved 2014-04-04. 3.Jump up ^ 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. 4.Jump up ^ Song Facts. Retrieved 2 August 2012 5.Jump up ^ "Boppers". Retrieved 2014-04-04. 6.Jump up ^ ""Tell Laura I Love Her " ( The Musical ) Had Its Premier Production on July 1 - 4 July 2009 at the Guildhall Theatre , Derby . | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 2014-04-04.

Preceded by "Apache" by the Shadows UK number one single

(Ricky Valance's version)
29 September 1960
(3 weeks) Succeeded by

"Only the Lonely" by Roy Orbison