Herb Reed

BOSTON —         Herb Reed, the last surviving original member of 1950s vocal group the Platters who sang on hits like “Only You” and “The Great Pretender,” has died. He was 83.

Reed died on Monday in a Boston area hospice after a period of declining health that included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, manager Fred Balboni said.

Reed was a Kansas City, Mo., native who founded the Platters in Los Angeles in 1953. Then a quartet, the group won amateur talent shows, and performed nights and weekends up and down the California coast while the members worked days at a car wash and at other odd jobs.

Reed came up with the group’s name, inspired by ’50s disc jockeys who called their records platters.

The group underwent several lineup changes, even adding a woman singer to become a quintet, before signing their first major recording contract in 1955.

Reed sang bass on the group’s four No. 1 hits, including “The Great Pretender,” “My Prayer,” “Twilight Time” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”

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