The Great Pretender

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"The Great Pretender"
Single by The Platters
B-side"I'm Just a Dancing Partner"
ReleasedNovember 3, 1955
Format45 rpm, 78 rpm
Recorded1955
GenreRhythm and blues, doo-wop
Length2:36
LabelMercury Records
Writer(s)Buck Ram
Producer(s)Buck Ram
 
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This article is about the original song by The Platters. For other uses, see The Great Pretender (disambiguation).
"The Great Pretender"
Single by The Platters
B-side"I'm Just a Dancing Partner"
ReleasedNovember 3, 1955
Format45 rpm, 78 rpm
Recorded1955
GenreRhythm and blues, doo-wop
Length2:36
LabelMercury Records
Writer(s)Buck Ram
Producer(s)Buck Ram

"The Great Pretender" is a popular song recorded by The Platters, with Tony Williams on lead vocals, and released as a single on November 3, 1955. The words and music were created by Buck Ram,[1] the Platters' manager and producer who was a successful songwriter before moving into producing and management. The Great Pretender reached the number one position on both the R&B and pop charts in 1956.[2]

Platters' version[edit]

Buck Ram reports that he wrote the song in about 20 minutes in the washroom of the Flamingo Hotel in order to have a song to follow up the success of Only You (And You Alone). Stan Freberg parodied this version.[1]

In 2004, the song was voted 360th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone.[3]

Freddie Mercury version[edit]

"The Great Pretender"
Single by Freddie Mercury
B-side"Exercises in Free Love" (3:58)
Released

February 23, 1987

January 25, 1993 (reissue)
Format7"/12" vinyl single
RecordedJanuary – February 1987
GenrePop rock
Length

3:26 (7" version)

5:55 (12" extended version)
LabelMercury Records
Writer(s)Buck Ram
Producer(s)David Richards, Freddie Mercury, Mike Moran
Freddie Mercury singles chronology
"Time"
(1986)
"The Great Pretender"
(1987)
"Barcelona"
(1987)
1993 reissue
Front cover of the 1993 reissue

The song was repopularized in 1987 by Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen. Mercury's version reached #4 on the UK Singles Chart.

Music Video[edit]

His music video for the song became one of the most well-known of his career. It featured Mercury in many of his Queen guises through video medium over the years, including visual re-takes of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "It's a Hard Life", "I Want to Break Free" and "Bohemian Rhapsody". It was directed by David Mallet in February 1987, and also featured fellow Queen member Roger Taylor and Peter Straker (a friend of Freddie's) in drag. Mercury also shaved off his moustache, which had been his trademark feature since 1980. There was also an extended video version which appears on the videosingle on VHS, Freddie Mercury The Video Collection on VHS and DVD and Lover of Life, Singer of Songs on DVD.

Releases[edit]

The song has been re-released on many compilations including Lover of Life, Singer of Songs, and on Queen's Greatest Hits III album.

Interview[edit]

In one of his last videotaped interviews in spring of 1987, Mercury explained that the song was particularly fitting for the way he saw his career and being on stage.[4]

Personnel[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Buck Ram interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 463. 
  3. ^ "361: The Great Pretender". Rolling Stone. 
  4. ^ Interview of Freddie Mercury by Rudi Dolezal. 1987.
  5. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.  Track 5.
  6. ^ Roy Clark. "The Great Pretender". Star Route TV Show 3.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Memories Are Made of This" by Dean Martin
Billboard Top 100 number-one single
(The Platters version)

February 18, 1956 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Rock and Roll Waltz" by Kay Starr
Preceded by
"Hands Off" by Jay McShann's Orchestra
Billboard R&B Best Sellers number-one single
January 7, 1956 - March 10, 1956
Succeeded by
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers