By Nicholas Jason Lopez
American Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Peter Laughner died at just 24, but had a huge influence among Cleveland’s alternative rock scene in the 1970’s.
Though arguably most known for his work with Rocket For The Tombs, he also led a collection of other bands such as Mr. Charlie, Peter & The Wolves, The Blue Drivers, Friction and Cinderella Backstreet.
Earlier this year, Smog Veil Records unveiled a 5-disc box set to commemorate Laughner’s music career.
The Music Bugle recently had the chance to chat with Susan Schmidt Horning, who played with Laughner in Friction and Cinderella’s Revenge.
The Music Bugle – What is your most memorable experience of Peter Laughner?
Susan Schmidt Horning – What I remember best about Peter is watching him and listening to him play on stage. He was a magnetic, if somewhat erratic performer. Great guitarist and songwriter!
The Music Bugle – What do you feel is the biggest impact Laughner had on the music industry?
Susan Schmidt Horning – Unfortunately, Peter did not live long enough to make any real impact on the “industry,” but he clearly made an impact on the many who heard his music and conveyed their love of it to others, thus building a grassroots fan base well before the D-I-Y culture of today. He was ahead of his time.
The Music Bugle – If Laughner was alive today, what do you think he would say about the industry?
Susan Schmidt Horning – I don’t know, maybe shake his head in dismay? Or maybe really dig the fact that anyone can make a record in the comforts of home and within hours have it uploaded to the internet and disseminated globally.
The Music Bugle – What are your thoughts on the 5-disc box set? Why should people check it out?
Susan Schmidt Horning – Smog Veil has created what is surely the most comprehensive and beautifully executed tribute to an artist who sailed under the radar of wide public recognition. Although I played with Peter for just a few years, I knew he was really versatile, but I had no idea just how versatile until I got my copy of the box set. I hope it gets the wide recognition it deserves, not just for Peter’s creativity and talent, but for the terrific curation of his work, and great engineering of some pretty dubious recordings.
The Music Bugle – What’s your favorite song of his?
Susan Schmidt Horning – I can’t pick just one. “Baudelaire,” comes to mind, and “Ain’t It Fun” also . . . don’t get me started . . .
The Music Bugle – What else do you think can be done to commemorate Laughner’s career?
Susan Schmidt Horning – More people need to hear his music. More people need to write about this box set. More rock stars need to cover his songs. Tribute album by all his former bandmates . . . just kidding, sorta.
The Music Bugle – What should people know most about Laughner?
Susan Schmidt Horning – Peter was sincerely passionate about music and mastered so many genres from blues roots to rockabilly, r & b, folk, funk and punk. He represents an era when rock musicians knew their craft, but he was no purist snob! So much has been said about the tragedy and waste of his early death. I think more should be remembered about his musical accomplishments, and the box set has made that possible.