Ral Donner

Ral Donner (February 10, 1943 - April 6, 1984) was an early American rock & roll musician. He scored several pop hits in the U.S. in the early 1960s and had a voice very similar to Elvis Presley's.


Donner was born in 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 hit and only Top Ten on the Billboard charts in the United States, peaking at #4. 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 was asked to narrate Presley's voice in the film This Is Elvis. He died of cancer on April 6, 1984.

Charting singles

"Girl of My Best Friend" (1961) U.S. #19
"You Don't Know What You've Got (Until You Lose It)" (1961) U.S. #4
"Please Don't Go" (1961) U.S. #39
"(What a Sad Way) To Love Somebody" (1962) U.S. #74
"She's Everything (I Wanted You to Be)" (1962) U.S. #18

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Original Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ral Donner