About the song
The Platters were one of the most successful vocal groups of the 1950s, known for their smooth harmonies and romantic ballads. One of their biggest hits was “The Great Pretender”, a song that expresses the feelings of a broken-hearted lover who tries to hide his sorrow behind a facade of happiness.
The song was written by Buck Ram, the producer and manager of The Platters, who also wrote their first hit, “Only You”. Ram said he wrote “The Great Pretender” in about 20 minutes in the washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, where the group was performing. He said he was inspired by the title of a book he saw in a bookstore, The Great Impostor, which was about a man who impersonated various professions.
The song was recorded by The Platters in Los Angeles in November 1955, with Tony Williams on lead vocals and Plas Johnson on tenor saxophone. It was released by Mercury Records and became a huge success, reaching No. 1 on the R&B chart and No. 2 on the pop chart in the US. It also topped the charts in the UK and Australia, and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. It was one of the first songs to cross over from the R&B market to the mainstream pop market, and helped establish The Platters as international stars.
The song has been covered by many artists over the years, including Roy Orbison, Freddie Mercury, Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, and Sam Cooke. It has also been featured in many movies and TV shows, such as American Graffiti, The King of Comedy, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad. It is considered one of the classic songs of the rock and roll era, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.