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Saturday, August 15, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tony Williams, Lead Singer Of `The Platters'

AP

NEW YORK - Tony Williams, the original lead singer of The Platters whose renditions of "Only You" and "The Great Pretender" propelled the R&B group to stardom in the 1950s, died yesterday. He was 64.

Mr. Williams died in his sleep at home. He had diabetes, his wife, Helen, said.

A native of Elizabeth, N.J., Mr. Williams was working as a parking-lot attendant in Los Angeles in 1953 when he was recruited by songwriter Buck Ram to front an R&B group, according to the book, Million Selling Records.

The Platters - Mr. Williams, David Lynch, Herbert Reed, Paul Robi and Zola Taylor - recorded "Only You" in 1955.

From 1955 until Mr. Williams left the group in 1960, The Platters had four No. 1 hits and 16 gold records. Among them: "My Prayer," "Harbor Lights," "Twilight Time," "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," and their biggest seller "The Great Pretender."

The group continued to perform without Mr. Williams, while he pursued a solo career.

Taylor, who lives in Los Angeles, and Reed are the only surviving members of the group, Mrs. Williams said.

Mr. Williams is survived by his wife, a son, four sisters and a

brother.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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