“Ain’t it fun when you know you're gonna die young.” – Peter Laughner
Not well-known but wildly passionate about creating and playing music, Peter Laughner and Adele Bertei’s story is relatable to anyone in the underground, music-obsessed scene. Through the eyes of one of his closest friends, relive the highs and lows of Peter’s final years in Cleveland. If you’ve spent any substantial amount of time around artists, you’ve probably known someone like Peter. An imaginative and brilliant artist with a colorful reputation and insecurities they silence with alcohol and/or other drugs.
Maybe you’ve had one of those fast and furious friendships forged with a deep underlying appreciation of music and debauchery that end in shocking and unexpected ways. This story breathes life back into a prominent figure of the Cleveland Music Scene and an unsung influencer of punk rock. Written with compassion toward the complexities that made Peter, it’s a short, but deep read about the early alternative rock and punk scenes of Cleveland and New York as Peter and Adele lived them.
Peter’s music career most notably started with Rocket from the Tombs, a heavy punk band active in Cleveland from mid-74 through 75. After the break up, he and fellow bandmate Crocus Behemoth (now David Thomas) formed the legendary underground avant-garde band, Pere Ubu, while the other members ventured to start The Dead Boys. Peter’s drinking and drug abuse forced him out of Pere Ubu, but not out of writing music. He had other groups, including Mr. Charlie, Cinderella Backstreet, The Blue Drivers, Friction, and Peter & The Wolves. Peter reminds me of most of the local, underground musicians I know: always ready to work on the next project with anybody willing.
As if she didn't know who he was, Peter introduced himself to Adele after she finished singing a set at a blues jam night. Peter invited her to try singing with one of his newer projects: Peter and the Wolves. The two became fast friends. Peter encouraged her musically; they shared records and factual anecdotes alongside an array of substances. The two would travel to NYC to see bands and distant friends. Peter introduced Adele to NYC and some of the people she needed to make the biggest change in her life fully committing to music.
One of the last people to stay close to Peter when the alcohol-fueled behavior ran most everyone out of his life, Adele’s retelling of Peter’s final years is a somber reminder of how the substances that numb us do little to heal our pain. Digest the complexities of his character during the highs and lows of his final year as told by someone who loved and admired him. A must-read for all underground music fans (especially you Clevelanders).