Ral Donner (February 10, 1943 – April 6, 1984) was an early American rock and roll musician. He scored several pop hits in the US in the early 1960s, and had a voice similar to Elvis Presley's. His best known song is his 1961 top ten hit, "You Don't Know What You've Got (Until You Lose It)".
Ralph Stuart Emanuel Donner was born in Norwood Park, Chicago and sang in church as a child. He sang in local talent shows as a teen, and formed two of his own bands, the Rockin' Five and the Gents, in high school. The Rockin' Five played with Sammy Davis, Jr. on Chicago television at one point in the late 1950s. In 1959, he appeared on Alan Freed's Big Beat program, and released a single with the Gents; soon after, the Gents toured with The Sparkletones.
Donner recorded a cover of Presley's "The Girl of My Best Friend", along with a backing band called the Starfires. After being picked up by Gone Records, Donner re-recorded and rereleased the tune, which became a nationwide hit; some listeners even thought that the cover was in fact Elvis himself. His next single, "You Don't Know What You've Got (Until You Lose It)", became his biggest, and only Top Ten, hit on the Billboard chart in the United States, peaking at #4. The track peaked at #25 in the UK Singles Chart in 1961. He managed a few more hits, the last of which was in 1962.
In the mid-1960s, Donner recorded for Reprise Records and Red Bird Records, but saw little further success. He played little in the 1970s, recording occasionally, but saw some rekindled interest in his music after Presley's death. In 1981, he provided voice-over narration (in the voice of Elvis) in the film This Is Elvis.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2011)
|Year||Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
|Label & number||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1959||"That's All Right With Me"
b/w "Tell Me Why"
|Scottie 1310||—||—||Non-album tracks|
|1961||"Girl Of My Best Friend"
b/w "It's Been A Long Long Time" (Non-album track)
|Gone 5102||19||—||Takin' Care Of Business|
b/w "To Love"
|Gone 5108||—||—||Non-album tracks|
|"You Don't Know What You've Got (Until You Lose It)"
b/w "So Close To Heaven" (Non-album track)
(Same number used as above single)
|4||25||Takin' Care Of Business|
|"Please Don't Go"
b/w "I Didn't Figure On Him (To Come Back)"
|"School Of Heartbreakers"
b/w "Because We're Young" (Non-album track)
|"She's Everything (I Wanted You To Be)"
Original B-side: "Will You Love Me In Heaven"
Later B-side: "Because We're Young"
|Gone 5121||18||—||Non-album tracks|
|1962||"(What A Sad Way) To Love Somebody"
b/w "Will You Love Me In Heaven"
b/w "Bells Of Love"
|"Second Miracle (Of Christmas)"
b/w "(Things That Make Up) Christmas Day"
|1963||"I Got Burned"[B]
b/w "A Tear In My Eye"
|"Loneliness Of A Star"
b/w "And Then"
|"I Wish This Night Would Never End"
b/w "Don't Put Your Heart In His Hand"
|"Run Little Linda"
b/w "Beyond The Heartbreak (But Still In Love)"
|1965||"You Finally Said Something Good"
b/w "Poison Ivy League"
b/w "The Other Side Of Me"
|1966||"Love Isn't Like That"
b/w "It Will Only Make Me Love You More"
|Red Bird 10-057||—||—|
|1968||"(If I Had My) Life To Live Over"
|Mid-Eagle 101||—||—||An Evening With Ral Donner|
|"If I Promise"
b/w "Just A Little Sunshine (In The Rain)"
|Rising Sons 714||—||—||Non-album tracks|
|1971||"(All Of A Sudden) My Heart Sings"
b/w "Lovin' Place"
|1972||"Don't Let It Slip Away"
b/w "Wait A Minute Now"
|1974||"The Wedding Song"
b/w "Godfather, Per Me"
|Chicago Fire 7402||—||—||An Evening With Ral Donner|
|1976||"The Wedding Song"
b/w "So Much Lovin'"
|1978||"The Day The Beat Stopped"
b/w "Rock On Me"
|Thunder 7801||—||—||Non-album tracks|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
- A ^ "Loveless Life" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100 but peaked on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number seventeen.
- B ^ "I Got Burned" did not enter the Billboard Hot 100 but peaked on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number twenty-four.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 165. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
-  Archived January 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Bruce Eder, Ral Donner at Allmusic
- Thedeadrockstarsclub.com - accessed May 2011
- Billboard Singles, Allmusic.com. Passim.
- Whitburn, Joel (2010). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010 (PDF). Billboard Books. p. 237.