On Thursday (April 30), writer and singer of the classic 1961 R&B/Soul ballad “Stand By Me,” Ben E. King, passed away at the age of 76, according to his publicist Phil Brown.
Born Benjamin Earl Nelson, King started out with The Five Crowns that became The Drifters in the 1950s; co-writing their hit single “There Goes My Baby,” which hit No. 2 in 1959. He also sang on their single “Save The Last Dance For Me.”
As it turns out, King wrote “Stand By Me” and brought it to his manager, but he turned it down. "It was written for the Drifters, but the manager turned it down, said no so I decided to do it myself…The manager said ‘it’s not a bad song, but we don’t need It, so I took it and walked out,” he told BBC in 2011. The song went to the US Top 5.
Used in advertisements with the film of the same name in the 1980s, the song once again shot to No. 1 in the UK for three weeks.
King's other hits included “Spanish Harlem,” “Amor,” “Don't Play That Song (You Lied)” and “Supernatural Thing – Part I.” “Stand By Me,” “Spanish Harlem” and “There Goes My Baby” were all named on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, and were all given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
Thanks for your contribution to music, Mr. King.