Soul Legend Ben E. King Passes Away
We are sad to report we’ve lost another great black musician. “Stand By Me” singer Ben E. King has died, his publicist confirmed Thursday.
According to BBC News reports:
R&B and soul singer Ben E King, best known for the classic song Stand By Me, has died at the age of 76.
King started his career in the late 1950s with The Drifters, singing on hits including There Goes My Baby and Save The Last Dance For Me.
After going solo, he hit the US top five with Stand By Me in 1961.
It returned to the charts in the 1980s, including a three-week spell at number one in the UK, following its use in the film of the same name and a TV ad.
The song has charted nine times on the US Billboard 100 over the years – King’s version twice and seven times with covers by artists like John Lennon and Spyder Turner.
It was also sampled for Sean Kingston’s 2007 number one single Beautiful Girls.
In 1999, the BMI announced that the song, written by King with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was the fourth most-played track of the 20th Century on US radio and TV.
Earlier this year, the US Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry, declaring that “it was King’s incandescent vocal that made it a classic”.
King’s other hits included Spanish Harlem, Amor, Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) and Supernatural Thing – Part I.
The singer died on Thursday, his publicist Phil Brown told BBC News.
Fellow musician Gary US Bonds wrote on Facebook that King was “one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls that I have had the privilege of knowing and calling my friend for more than 50 years”.
He wrote: “I can tell you that Ben E will be missed more than words can say. Our sincere condolences go out to Betty and the entire family.
“Thank you Ben E for your friendship and the wonderful legacy you leave behind.”
We knew “Stand By Me” was popular but had no idea it had achieved so much. King is leaving behind quite a legacy.
Here’s more background info on him:
Born Benjamin Earl Nelson, he initially joined a doo-wop group called The Five Crowns, who became The Drifters after that group’s manager fired the band’s previous members.
He co-wrote and sang on the band’s single There Goes My Baby, which reached number two in the US in 1959.
But the group members were paid just $100 per week by their manager and, after a request for a pay rise was turned down, the singer decided to go it alone. In the process, he adopted the surname King.
His first solo hit, in 1961, was Spanish Harlem, which was followed by Stand By Me.
Stand By Me, Spanish Harlem and There Goes My Baby were all named in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and were all given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family. Sounds like he lived quite a life.