Best remembered for the 1961 released ‘Stand By Me’ (a song that has received more than 400 cover versions since), Ben E King whose Doo-Wop honeyed voice helped popularize R&B & Soul, has died this Thu. Apr. 30 at the age of 76. His publicist, Phil Brown, told the Associated Press, only saying that the death was from natural causes.
Born Benjamin Earl Nelson in North Carolina on Sept. 28, 1938, he adopted his pseudonym when starting his solo career. Singing first with a church choir before joining a Doo-Wop group, The Five Crowns. This after his family had moved to Harlem, NY when he was a boy.
He came to celebrity in his early 20’s along with The Drifters prior scoring his first hit as a solo artist. Comin’ up with ‘Spanish Harlem’ in 1961. Then soon after releasing ‘Stand By Me’ which he co-wrote with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. “Of all the songs I wrote or co-wrote in my career, this is my favourite.”, he explained. “It came at a strange time though. I’d just left the Drifters. And I sort of had to plead with Ahmet Ertegün, the president of Atlantic Records, to find a place for me. He put me to work with legendary songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. It was like a schooling for me, a kid from Harlem who knew nothing about anything…”
The song made #4 in the US charts on its release that same year. Then #1 in the UK in 1987 after it appeared on the OST of Rob Reiner‘s film of the same name, starring River Phoenix. But also on a Levi’s jeans commercial. All in all, the song has charted nine times in the US Billboard 100. With seven of them as covered by artists including John Lennon.
Among Ben E King‘s most memorable songs, ‘There Goes My Baby’ and ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ earned a Grammy Hall Of Fame Award. Meanwhile King would make a quick foray into Disco territories. In 1975 with ‘Supernatural Thing’. A ultra sought after gem written by Patrick Grant and Gwen Guthrie. With production work by the likes of Tony Silvester and Bert DeCoteaux (Crown Heights Affair). Then 4 years after with ‘Music Trance’ which DeCoteaux produced as well. In the meantime, he also happened to join forces with Average White Band on their 1977 ‘Benny And Us’ album. The latter featuring the memorable ‘A Star In The Ghetto’ with mixing work courtesy of Tom Moulton.
Gone too soon: Ben E King
Indamixworldwide would like to express their deepest condolences to Ben E. King‘s family and friends.
With eternal Love & Respect,