Although Smoke Gets in Your Eyes was original written in 1933 by composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for the musical Roberta, it is one of those pieces of music that is impossible to pin down to only one version. Artists such as Paul Whiteman and Tommy Dorsey conducted orchestrated versions of it in the 1930s. Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and Nat “King” Cole then resurrected it in the following decade. 1950s big names such as Thelonious Monk, Eartha Kitt and Sarah Vaughan offered their interpretation. And this is only up to 1959, when The Platters topped the charts with it and made their version the definitive one in the public’s eye.
At the time, the vocal group already had two successful hits in Only You and The Great Pretender. Both came from the mind of Buck Ram – never a singer or even a member of the group, but always a constant presence during The Platters’ multiple line-up changes over the years. Ram is credited with the production of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes as well, although the formula that the group worked with by the end of the 50s involved taking pop standards and re-arranging them for a modern audience. Original lyricist Harbach congratulated Ram upon hearing the new version, while composer Kern’s widow disliked it so much that she started suing the producer against its release.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes spent 3 consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100 before being dethroned by Lloyd Price’s Stagger Lee.