"Tell Laura I Love Her" is a teenage tragedy song written by Jeff Barry and Ben Raleigh. It was a US top ten popular music hit for singer Ray Peterson in 1960 on RCA Victor Records, reaching No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Later that same year, it was recorded and released by Ricky Valance in the United Kingdom, where it went to the No. 1 spot on the UK Singles Chart. The song has been a hit in 14 countries, and has sold over seven million copies.
"Tell Laura I Love Her" is the tragic story of a young man named Tommy who is in love with Laura and 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 how his car overturns and bursts into flames. Tommy is fatally injured and his last words are "Tell Laura I love her... My love for her will never die". In the final verse, Laura prays inside the chapel, where a church organ is heard, and where she can still hear Tommy's voice intoning the title one more time, before it fades out.
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 No. 1 hit "Teen Angel". The personnel on the original recording included Al Chernet, Charles Macy, and Sebastian Mure on guitars: 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-five thousand copies that had already been pressed. A cover by Ricky Valance, released by EMI on the Columbia label, was No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks. Valance's version was initially banned by the BBC; it was considered to be in "bad taste" and expressed concern for copycat activity.
The Peterson single was re-released in 1962, following the success of Valance's recording.