Peter Laughner

Cleveland, Ohio singer, songwriter, guitarist, and occasional journalist (b. 22 August 1952 d. 22 June 1977 aged 24 of acute pancreatitis) best known for being in the "classic" late period lineup of Rocket from the Tombs (1974-75) and also co-founding Pere Ubu in September 1975 after Rocket's split that July. Laughner was dismissed from Ubu in mid-1976 after appearing on two 45's with them.

Laughner started his first band, The Fifth Edition, in 1965 while he was in middle school. In 1967, The Fifth Edition became Mr. Charlie and lasted until 1970. Bands that followed include a 1971-72 stint in the Mr. Stress Blues Band as well as his own bands The Original Wolverines (1972), Space Age Thrills (1972), Cinderella Backstreet (1973), Blue Drivers (1973), Cinderella's Revenge (1974), Fins (aka The Finns) (1974), Peter & The Wolves (1975-76), Friction (1976-77), Cleveland Blues Underground (1977), and his final band Wolves (1977) (not to be confused with the earlier Peter & the Wolves).

He championed the underground music of Cleveland and elsewhere, regularly visiting New York as the CBGB's scene was taking off in the early 1970's parallel to the Ohio music scene which led to him booking the first Television show outside of NYC at Cleveland's Piccadilly Inn.

He recorded hours of songs to tape, most of which have never been officially released. These include many originals and covers, solo, duo, or with his bands, as well as collaborations w/ Lester Bangs, Peter Stampfel, Terry Hartman, Rockne Riddlebarger, David Krauss (of Tiny Alice), Charlotte Pressler (his wife during 1971-1976), Ruby Port (aka Helen York), and others.

Laughner also wrote for Creem, Zeppelin, Exit magazines, as well as the local Plain Dealer and Akron's Beacon Journal newspapers amongst other publications featuring his poetry, prose, music reviews and articles.
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August 21, 2013
edited over 5 years ago
Peter Laughner is best known as a member of Ohio's seminal proto punk outfit Rocket From the Tombs and subsequently in 1975 he and fellow RFTT bandmate David Thomas formed Pere Ubu. Before Pere Ubu and Rocket From the Tombs had played in some minor groups like Wolverines and Cinderella Backstreet. Laughner had also been a journalist for the now defunct music magazine CREEM and was a friend of the infamously outspoken rock journalist Lester Bangs.

Unknown to many, Laughner briefly replaced Richard Lloyd in Television 1975. Lloyd left after an argument with Tom Verlaine about the choice of "Little Johnny Jewel" as their first single. Laughner then replaced him for a short while until Lloyd had changed his mind.

Although extremely gifted, Laughner's life was riddled with drug and alcohol dependence. Leaving Pere Ubu in the summer of 1976, he was not even in the band when they finally released their full length debut The Modern Dance. Among his more well known bands post-Pere Ubu was Friction, which he formed together with Anton Fier.

Though his career was relatively brief, he left a legacy with the rock anthem "Ain't It Fun", which has been covered by Dead Boys and Guns n' Roses among others. "Amphetamine", "Cinderella Backstreet", "Life Stinks", "Baudelaire", and "Dear Richard" are other highlights from his all too short song career. In 1977 he died of pancreatitis which was a result of his drug and alcohol abuse.

In the mid 1990s the collection Take the Guitar Player for a Ride presented many bone chilling demos as well as other important songs by Rocket From the Tombs and Friction. Rumor has it some of the demos on that album were recorded mere hours prior to his death.

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