A famous actress once said that “he who hesitates is a damn fool.”
In the music industry, there are many examples of fools and hesitations. Decca Records takes the prize with the decision to pass on signing The Beatles. But here’s another fail that happened a couple of years earlier on this day in 1960, when they decided to not only hold back pop balladry dynamo Ray Peterson‘s “Tell Laura I Love Her,” but to then go and destroy 20,000 copies that had already been pressed.
Decca’s reason: it was “too tasteless and vulgar,” on account of its tale about a young lover named ‘Tommy’ taken by a car crash, swan-songing his final bittersweet message before dying. Try not to belt it out.
Meanwhile, the teenage finger-snap drama got covered by Ricky Valance on EMI shortly thereafter and hit #1 British Chart slots for three weeks straight. But Peterson got his vindication, as his original is classically coddled just the same these days. Or rather, Laura got the message:
But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck
With his dying breath, they heard him say
Tell Laura I love her
Tell Laura I need her
Tell Laura not to cry
My love for her will never die
Now in the chapel where Laura prays
For her poor Tommy, who passed away
It was just for Laura he lived and died
Alone in the chapel she can hear him cry