‘Stand By Me’ soul legend Ben E. King dies of natural causes at 76

Soul legend Ben E. King, best known for composing and singing ‘Stand By Me’, has died aged 76.

King, who was born in Henderson, North Carolina, in 1938 and started his successful career in the late 1950s with The Drifters, passed away of natural causes on Thursday, his publicist, Phil Brown, said.

On Friday, fellow musician Gary US Bonds, 75, paid tribute to the R&B and soul singer on Facebook.

He wrote: ‘With an extremely heavy heart, I must say goodbye to 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.

‘Speaking for myself, my family & my Roadhouse Rockers family, 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.’

Born Benjamin Earl Nelson on September 28, 1938, King moved to New York as a child and got involved in the burgeoning doo wop scene. He became a member of the group, The Five Crowns.

In 1958, he and his fellow musicians were signed to The Drifters, scoring a string of R&B hits, including ‘There Goes My Baby’, ‘Save The Last Dance For Me and ‘This Magic Moment’.

Two years later, King quit the group to go solo. His first hit was the ballad ‘Spanish Harlem’ in 1961.

Later that year, he made the US top five with ‘Stand By Me’. The song, written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was named as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

It also earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, alongside ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ – and was ultimately voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America.

‘Stand By Me’ returned to the charts two decades later – making number one in the UK – following its use in an advert for Levis jeans. It has so far charted nine times on the US Billboard 100.

King, who completed a UK tour in 2013 and played concerts in the US last year, had resided in Teaneck, New Jersey, since the late 1960s after moving to Harlem, New York, when he was nine.

He had not been publicly known to have been suffering from an illness prior to his death on Thursday. Mr Brown did not disclose any further details surrounding the singer’s passing.

Source: The DailyMail

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