Ben E. King, Soulful Singer, Dies at 76; ‘Stand by Me’ Was One of His Hits

Ben E King received an award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012
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 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 advert.

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 [April 30], his publicist Phil Brown told BBC News.

Ben E King had six songs in the US Billboard top 40 between 1961 and 1975
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."

With an extremely heavy heart, I must say goodbye to one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls that I have had the...
Posted by Gary U.S. Bonds on Thursday, April 30, 2015
Actor Jerry O'Connell, who played Vern in the film Stand By Me alongside River Phoenix and Corey Feldman, tweeted: "You know you are good when John Lennon covers your song. Ben E. King was a wonderful and immensely talented man."

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.
 
King also set up a charity to help young people continue their education
His first solo hit, in 1961, was Spanish Harlem, which was followed by Stand By Me. He originally intended Stand By Me for The Drifters, but said they turned it down. So he worked on the song when Atlantic Records boss Ahmet Ertegun paired him with writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.










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