Browse by Title
V W X Y Z #  

The Great Pretender


The Platters

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song describes a man who deals with his heartbreak by denying it. The Platters wrote the lyrics in the washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Doo Wop groups often practiced in washrooms because of the acoustics.
This was used in the movie Rock Around The Clock, and also appeared on the American Graffiti soundtrack along with 2 other songs by The Platters: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Only You." (thanks, adrianus - pitstown, NJ, for above 2)
Freddie Mercury revived this in 1987 and had a UK #4 hit with it. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
This was the first ever Doo Wop #1 in the USA, and The Platters also became the first R&B group to have a #1 on the Pop charts. The music was not known as "Doo Wop" at the time - it was categorized as Rock or R&B. Around 1970, Gus Gossert, who was an oldies DJ on WCBS in New York City, started using the term "Doo Wopp" to describe this type of music. Gossert didn't come up with the term however: a record collector named Stan Krause did. Krause helped produce Gossert's shows and gave him song information to use on the air. (thanks to Danny Guilfoyle and the Forgotten Hits Newsletter)
You can hear a female voice harmonizing on this song. That would be Zola Taylor, who was brought in as the only female member of The Platters. She was Frankie Lymon's second wife, and was portrayed in the movie Why Do Fools Fall In Love by Halle Berry. She died from a stroke in 2007 at age 69. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
You know this is an old song because it uses the word "gay" with its original meaning: happy and carefree. The lyric: "Oh yes, I'm the great pretender/Just laughing and gay like a clown."
Chrissie Hynde named her rock band "The Pretenders" after this Platters song.
The Platters
More The Platters songs
More songs that were hits for more than one artist
More songs about heartache
More songs used in movies
More songs that musical performers are named after

Comments (7):

The song was actually written by Buck Ram, both music and lyrics. The Platters as a group were only performers and never wrote any hits themselves.
- Tom, nashville, TN
More than twenty years later, the song title provided the name for the English rock band "The Pretenders".
- Ed, Lebanon, NH
feddie mercurys version was so bad he was a bender who took it up the arse one to many times developed aids and died ha ha
- martin, stoke on trent, United Kingdom
i think this song rocks man those guys knew how to sing and i bet they could slap gooch and twist fur man id love it if they could eat my gooch cheese and twist my fur id love to slap their dirty black gooches rofl
- martin, stoke on trent, United Kingdom
the platters are just the consummate group. i read where jerome kern's widow was concerned about the group doing "smoke gets in your eyes". best thing that ever happed to that song. zola taylor looked just like my stepmom. wow, if i could only wear clothes like that and singing with the guys!
- Grace, conway, AR
Freddies version is much better
- Amy, Dallas, TX
i think you they shood do facts for only you and you alone that song iz tha best..........
- Mack, plano, TX
You have to to post comments.
Tonio KTonio K
This mysterious and wildly eclectic singer/songwriter talks about some of his most memorable songs and collaborations.
Van Dyke ParksVan Dyke Parks
U2, Carly Simon, Joanna Newsom, Brian Wilson and Fiona Apple have all gone to Van Dyke Parks to make their songs exceptional.
Bob DaisleyBob Daisley
Bob was the bass player and lyricist for the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums. Here's how he wrote songs like "Crazy Train" and "Mr. Crowley" with Ozzy and Randy Rhoads.
Dwight TwilleyDwight Twilley
Since his debut single "I'm On Fire" in 1975, Dwight has been providing Spinal-Tap moments and misadventure.