The Great Pretender

Album: Best Of The Platters (1956)
Charted: 5 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • 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 two other songs by The Platters: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Only You." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adrianus - Pitstown, NJ, for above 2
  • Freddie Mercury revived this in 1987 and had a UK #4 hit with his version.
  • This was the first ever Doo Wop #1 in the USA, and it also made The Platters 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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.
  • This was sampled in the 1956 novelty hit "The Flying Saucer" by Buchanan & Goodman. The song is referenced as "Too Real" by The Clatters.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 5

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 27th 1957, the Platters performed "The Great Pretender" on CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Two years earlier on December 1st, 1955 it entered Billboard's Top 100 chart at position #41; and nine weeks later on February 2nd, 1956 it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} and spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 {24 weeks}...
    And on December 22nd, 1955 it reached #1 {for 11 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart, and for 7 of those 11 weeks it kept Little Richard's "Tutti-Frutti" in the #2 spot...
    Between 1955 and 1967 the Los Angeles-based quintet had thirty-nine Top 100 records; seven made the Top 10 with four reaching #1, there three other #1 records were "My Prayer" for 5 weeks in 1956, "Twilight Time" for 1 week in 1958, and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" for 3 weeks in 1959}...
    They just missed having nine Top 10 records when “You’ll Never Never Know” {1956} and “I’m Sorry” {1957} both peaked at #11…
    Sadly, all five original members have passed away; the last being bassist Herb Reed on June 4th, 2012 at the age of 83...
    May they all R.I.P.
  • Tom from Nashville, TnThe 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.
  • Ed from Lebanon, NhMore than twenty years later, the song title provided the name for the English rock band "The Pretenders."
  • Grace from Conway, ArThe 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 happened to that song. Zola Taylor looked just like my stepmom. Wow, if I could only wear clothes like that and singing with the guys!
  • Amy from Dallas, TxFreddie's version is much better.
see more comments

Jimmy WebbSongwriter Interviews

Webb talks about his classic songs "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "MacArthur Park."

Dean PitchfordSongwriter Interviews

Dean wrote the screenplay and lyrics to all the songs in Footloose. His other hits include "Fame" and "All The Man That I Need."

Yacht Rock QuizFact or Fiction

Christopher Cross with Deep Purple? Kenny Loggins in Caddyshack? A Fact or Fiction all about yacht rock and those who made it.

Rupert HineSongwriter Interviews

Rupert crafted hits for Tina Turner, Howard Jones and The Fixx.

What Musicians Are Related to Other Musicians?Song Writing

A big list of musical marriages and family relations ranging from the simple to the truly dysfunctional.

Millie JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Outrageously gifted and just plain outrageous, Millie is an R&B and Rap innovator.