My friend, ‘Tell Laura’ singer dies 60 years after topping charts

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Don’t we all like to reminisce, to look back on the ‘good old days’, saying things like ‘they don’t make music like that anymore’? You bet we do, and perhaps even more so for those of us with multiple sclerosis, another illness or disability, or in our so-called golden years; it’s a pleasant way to pass the time.

So, cast your mind back to 1960, those of you who can do that or like music of that era, and you will doubtless come across the song Tell Laura I Love Her. It achieved great success on most sides of the Atlantic – with two different artistes: Ray Peterson crooned his way into people’s hearts in the US, while Ricky Valance took the song to number one in the UK charts, then called the Hit Parade.


Ricky Valance (Pic: South Wales Argus).

The song told the tragic story of Tommy’s love for Laura. He died driving in a stock car race, trying to win cash to buy a wedding ring. Sadly, like Tommy, Ricky passed away on Friday (June 12).

Ricky and I became friends in the late 1980s, after first meeting when I saw him steal the show at an annual festival of 60s music. He had lost none of his 1960 voice, was a consummate performer, immaculate in appearance, and a real showman.

Audience spellbound

His rendition of American Trilogy held the audience spellbound, me included, but the adulation reached its peak during Tell Laura. Later in his set, he even had to deal with the strength of the crowd’s “Sing Laura” chant. He was their darling, Ricky was an audience-pleaser. Naturally, he sang it again!


Ricky Valance sings Tell Laura I Love Her, number one in 1960.

Our friendship grew, with me visiting him at his then home in Bedford, and him dropping by my office for a chat. I came to know him as a man who was dedicated to his family and career. Honest, faithful, hardworking, and forceful, he was used to getting his way. He was loving and caring but was certainly head of his family.

There will be plenty of obituaries and tributes to his life and career but these few words are my way of trying to turn the spotlight onto the man, the committed Christian, behind the image, the man I knew and am proud to have called my friend.

Ricky and his wife Evelyn moved to the outskirts of Torrevieja, on Spain’s Costa Brava, some years ago. However, more recently they returned to the UK where he died in hospital close to their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire.

Born David Spencer in a south Wales mining village, Ricky had been diagnosed with dementia and had been in hospital since before the start of lockdown. He was 81.  (Ricky has always said he was 21 in April 1960 but some news media say he was 84).

Goodbye my friend.

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Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.

For example:

Centre                              not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control)                  Colour                              not color                                                                                                                      Diarrhoea                       not diarrhea                                                                                                  Haematology                not hematology                                                                                Haematopoietic          not hematopoietic

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.

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