News and Views

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

By  | 
  • Ben E. King, 76, passed away of natural causes Thursday, publicist said
  • He was best known for composing and singing hit ‘Stand By Me’ in 1961
  • Song made the US top five and has charted 9 times on US Billboard 100
  • On Friday, fellow musician Gary US Bonds, 75, paid tribute to the singer
  • Described him as ‘one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls I know’

 

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.

Ben_E_King_dead

Successful career: King (pictured, left, posing on August 14, 1974, and right, performing on May 14, 1988, in New York) had not been publicly known to have been suffering from an illness prior to his death Thursday

 

Legend: Soul singer Ben E. King, best known for the hit ‘Stand By Me’, has died aged 76. Above King is pictured performing at the 34th Annual John Lennon Tribute Benefit Concert in New York last December

‘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

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.