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The Platters

With classics such as "The Great Pretender," "Only You," and their rendition of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," the Platters were one of the preeminent doo-wop groups of the rock & roll era. Under the guidance of manager and producer Buck Ram, the Platters churned out hit after hit during the 1950s, bridging the gap between more traditional vocal-group stylings and the popular R&B grooves of the early '50s. Their sound was unique, marked by lead singer Tony Williams' powerful vocals and the feminine touch of singer Zola Taylor. Although competing versions of the Platters confused the public for many years, original founding member Herb Reed eventually solidified his rights to the name and the group continued recording and performing in the 2010s.

The Platters started out in 1952 as a Los Angeles-based doo wop group who made a few records for Federal, a subsidiary of Cincinnati's King Records. What changed their fortunes boils down to one very important name: their mentor, manager, producer, songwriter, and vocal coach, Buck Ram. Ram took a standard doo wop vocal group and turned them into stars -- one of the most enduring and lucrative groups of all time. By 1954, Ram was already running a talent agency in Los Angeles, writing and arranging for publisher Mills Music, managing the Three Suns -- a pop group with some success -- and working with his protégés, the Penguins. The Platters seemed like a good addition to his stable.

After getting them out of their Federal contract, Ram placed them with the burgeoning national independent label Mercury Records (at the same time he brought over the Penguins following their success with "Earth Angel"), automatically getting them into pop markets through the label's distribution contacts alone. Then Ram started honing in on the group's strengths and weaknesses. The first thing he did was put the lead-vocal status squarely on the shoulders of lead tenor Tony Williams. Williams' emoting power was turned up full blast with the group (now augmented with Zola Taylor from Shirley Gunter & the Queens) working as very well-structured vocal support framing his every note. With Ram's pop songwriting classics as their musical palette, the group quickly became a pop and R&B success, eventually earning the distinction of being the first black act of the era to top the pop charts. Considered the most romantic of all the doo wop groups (that is, the ultimate in "make out music"), hit after hit came tumbling forth in a seemingly effortless manner: "Only You," "The Great Pretender," "My Prayer," "Twilight Time," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Harbor Lights," all of them establishing the Platters as the classiest of all.

In 1961, Williams struck out on his own. By the decade's end, the group had disbanded, with various members starting up their own version of the Platters. Decades of competing versions ensued, until original member Herb Reed finally won a series of court cases. Reed, who died in 2012, restarted the group and patterned them on the original, with members including Wayne Miller, Valerie Victoria, Frank Pizarro, and Cheo Bourne, plus music director Michael Larson. In 2015, the only group authorized to perform as the Platters released Back to Basics Live! on the You Dig It label. The album included a pair of Grammy Hall of Fame songs "Only You (And You Alone)" and "The Great Pretender." Also included was a bonus track, the new Platters' recording of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" (lead singer Pizarro was a first responder at the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001). ~ Cub Koda, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Candlelight, dinner, good bottle of wine, my wife...The Platters beautiful music... I don't need anything else!
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I was fortunate enough to see these guys live and in person.....R a m s t e i n AFB 1959.......w o w , what memories.
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Pushing 80 and three wars later these guys kept my sanity and hope alive
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Memories
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I Love you One Thousand Times! Great Song. Greatest Group!
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I'm 74, I'm white and had been listening to Black artists on Black-only stations. The first time I heard Tony Williams sing Only You I knew that America had finally begun to evolve musically. I still get choked up hearing anything by the original Platters.
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Absolutely, 2 thumbs up for the 50's through 70's....noth i n g but REAL music.
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jokerangie33
Music makes one feel good again. Lots of memories.
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sbuban1
Great times, great music, great memories!!
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oldies for ever.
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You can understand the great words in our time ��
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The best lead vocalist ever
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The best of the best
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One of the greatest doowop songs.
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I can listen to oldies all day long!!
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Great signing from wonderful era when America was more innocent! Love many of The Platters songs
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MERAVIGLIOSI ! ! ! ! GRAZIE !
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LIKE !!!!!!!!!!!! ! !
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What a song to dance to - The Great Pretender!
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dragonlady60 8 8
The platters...c l a s s y goup...smoke s gets in ur eyes!"!
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The. Great. Pretender. That. My. Song
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OLDIES BUT GOODIES BRUH!!
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comellorj
wish we could go back to the50's. greatest songs.
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comellorj
they are the greatest ever.
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Pac man
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This song is so lovely
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dragonlady60 8 8
Smoke gets in your eyes...the best
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I took my wonderful wife Sandy, to see The PLATTERS in a little place in Houston...My wife is a little younger than I am, but she loved The PLATTERS and after their concert she told me that it felt like they were singing just to her...! That is one of the greatest compliment I think you can give to A group like The PLATTERS, what do you think...?
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I love the oldes wish things were just like back in the day, things have changed too much and I hate it should have been born in the 50s!! :)
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BENDICIONES ,.-´+´-.,,BE N I T O BARRETO JIMENEZ ,.-´+´-., RECORDANDO AQUELLOS AYERES ,.-´+´-., CALLE 28 Y MAPLE STREET ,.-´+´-., WEST LOS ANGELES CALIFORNIA ,.-´+´-., LOS DUKES DE VWEST SIDE ,.-´+´-., GRACIAS ,.-´+´-.,
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LIKE ! ! !
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why do things half to change. loved their early days so much
with smoke gets in your eyes, great pretender etc
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The Platters Are So Great!!
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Goodsongtohe a r d a l l d a y n n i g h t t
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jblackbass
great song
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Only You.. ❤
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THE BEST!
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Love The Platters!
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bobchandler3 3
What can you say?? The greatest slow dance and make out group of all time. Tony Williams lead singer - The most beautiful voice ever. RMC
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I have loved form the very first time I heard them!
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How about Jerry butler
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bluecma1955
thanx Pandora, you take me back to my youth!
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love pandora thanks for the memories
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don't forget sam cooke drifters platters diana ross &supremes riteous brothers
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iI agree with you cross 99 1000% rap aint music at all all the old black groups male and female were great still should be recordind some good music must have not rubbed offi know these groups listened to the motown sounds
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some of the best memories and music of our lives i'm 64 heard all of the good old music bands makes think of good times and the girls lol nothing better.
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With This Ring Is a great one .love this music
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Such a beautiful song,these songs were the perfect and innocent love songs...so classy and beautiful
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great song still listen.
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Stumped old people
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