"Stand By Me" singer Ben E. King dies at age 76

(May 1, 2015) Ben E. King, a soul music legend both as part of The Drifters and as a solo artist, has died at age 76. King may be best known for “Stand By Me,” an inspirational song of unity that is without question one of the seminal soul music songs and performances.

The North Carolina-born King moved to Harlem as a child and was singing around New York by the time he was a teen. He joined the group The Drifters in 1958 and sang lead on a string of hits for the act, including “This Magic Moment” and “Save the Last Dance For Me,” helping establishThe Drifter as arguably the most successful R&B group of the time.

(May 1, 2015) Ben E. King, a soul music legend both as part of The Drifters and as a solo artist, has died at age 76. King may be best known for “Stand By Me,” an inspirational song of unity that is without question one of the seminal soul music songs and performances.

The North Carolina-born King moved to Harlem as a child and was singing around New York by the time he was a teen. He joined the group The Drifters in 1958 and sang lead on a string of hits for the act, including “This Magic Moment” and “Save the Last Dance For Me,” helping establishThe Drifter as arguably the most successful R&B group of the time.

King left the Drifters in the early 60s for what became a memorable solo career, highlighted by two now-classic 60s hits, “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me.” The latter re-charted several times over the next few decades, most notably upon the 1986 release of the Rob Reiner movie of the same name.  King also sporadically hit the charts in the 70s, landing the big hit “Supernatural Thing” and teaming with the Average White Band on “Give It Up For Love” and the excellent associated album, Benny and Us.

King continued to successfully perform internationally on the oldies circuit for the remainder of the 20th Century and into the 21st, still sounding great.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as part of The Drifters.

In a generation that representing the Golden Age of Soul Music, Ben E. King stands as one of its giants, a unique singer whose achingly passionate performance on “Stand By Me” remains among the greatest soul music performances of all time. He will be missed.

By Chris Rizik

 

Many thanks to Gary Van den Bussche of Disco, Soul, Gold

 

 

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