Ben E. King, legendary soul and R&B singer born Benjamin Earl Nelson, has died at the age of 76. King was best known for his sing “Stand By Me”, which hit No. 1 in 1961 and again in 1987 when it was the theme song to the film of the same name.
King was a principal member of the group The Drifters, and sang on such classics as “This Magic Moment” and “There Goes My Baby”. When management refused to raise the musicians’ $100-a-week salary, King quit and went solo. He changed his surname and went on to have hits like “Spanish Harlem”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, and of course “Stand By Me”.
That song, along with “Spanish Harlem” and “There Goes My Baby” are all listed among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. “Stand By Me” also placed No. 70 on Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Songs Ever.