The Great Pretender

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"The Great Pretender"
The Great Pretender Single 1955.jpg
Single by The Platters
B-side"I'm Just a Dancing Partner"
ReleasedNovember 3, 1955
Format45 rpm, 78 rpm
GenreRhythm and blues, doo-wop
Songwriter(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 written 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] It also reached the UK charts peaking at number 5.

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] Plas Johnson played tenor saxophone.

Freddie Mercury version[edit]

"The Great Pretender"
The Great Pretender Single 1987.png
Single by Freddie Mercury
B-side"Exercises in Free Love" (3:58)
ReleasedFebruary 23, 1987 January 25, 1993 (reissue)
Format7"/12" vinyl single, cassette, CD
RecordedJanuary 1987
GenrePop rock
Length3:25 (7" version) 5:55 (12" extended version)
Songwriter(s)Buck Ram
Producer(s)David Richards, Freddie Mercury, Mike Moran
Freddie Mercury singles chronology
"The Great Pretender"
1993 reissue
Front cover of the 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 number 4 in the UK Singles Chart. 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]

Mercury's music video for the song featured him parodying himself in many of his Queen guises through video medium over the years, including visual re-takes of "Radio Ga Ga", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "It's a Hard Life", "I Want to Break Free", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "One Vision", and "I Was Born to Love You". It was directed by David Mallet in February 1987, and also featured fellow Queen member Roger Taylor and actor Peter Straker in drag. The video was also notable for Mercury having shaved off his trademark moustache, which he had sported for much of the 1980s.

Other cover versions[edit]

Popular culture[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. ^ "Cover versions of The Great Pretender by Jimmy Parkinson - SecondHandSongs".
  6. ^ "Cover versions of The Great Pretender by Jackie Riggs - SecondHandSongs".
  7. ^ Songs by MISS YAO LEE 姚莉, "假惺惺 The Great Pretender" CD release Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  8. ^ Kathy Young with the Innocents, "Baby Oh Baby" single release Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Just Once in My Life - The Righteous Brothers - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  10. ^ "Classic Album Review: Roy Clark — 'Roy Clark Live!'". 15 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Reggae Got Soul - George Faith - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic.
  12. ^ "The Statler Brothers » Discography".

External links[edit]