Friday, May 01, 2015

Ben E. King Passed Away!

Legendary soul singer Ben E. King passed away.

You've heard the song "Stand by Me". It was sung by Ben E. King. That song was used in the 1980s Rob Reiner's cult classic Stand By Me. The movie featured the late River Phoenix.

The song is on on the RIAA's list of Songs of the Century.

The Associated Press reports that the R&B singer passed away last night. His baritone voice helped The Drifters score some major hits.

King started his career in the late 1950s with The Drifters, singing on hits including There Goes My Baby and Save The Last Dance For Me.

After going solo, he hit the US top five with Stand By Me in 1961.

King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson on September 28, 1938 in Henderson, North Carolina, and moved to Harlem, New York, at age 9.

King was active in his charitable foundation, the Stand By Me Foundation. He was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey, from the late 1960s.

King performed "Stand By Me" during a televised tribute to late comedian George Carlin, as he was one of Carlin's favorite artists.

On November 11, 2010, he performed "Stand By Me" on the Latin Grammys with Prince Royce.
Ben E. King with his wife Betty.
King toured the United Kingdom in 2013 and played concerts in the United States as late as 2014, despite reported health problems.

King died on April 30, 2015, at the age of 76.

His agent said he suffered from "coronary problems" at the time of his death.

He was survived by his wife of 51 years, Betty.

Wikipedia entries stated that King (still using his birth name) joined a doo wop group called the Five Crowns. Later in 1958, the Drifters' manager George Treadwell fired the members of the original Drifters, and replaced them with the Five Crowns.

King had a string of R&B hits with the group on Atlantic Records. He co-wrote and sang lead on the first Atlantic hit by the new version of the Drifters, "There Goes My Baby" (1959). He also sang lead on a succession of hits by the team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, including "Save the Last Dance for Me", "This Magic Moment", and "I Count the Tears".

King only recorded thirteen songs with the Drifters—two backing other lead singers and eleven lead vocal performances—including a non-single called "Temptation" (later redone by Drifters vocalist Johnny Moore). The last of the King-led Drifters singles to be released was "Sometimes I Wonder", which was recorded May 19, 1960, but not issued until June 1962.

Due to a contract dispute with Treadwell in which King and his manager, Lover Patterson, demanded that King be given a salary increase and a fair share of royalties, King never again performed with the Drifters on tour or on television; he would only record with the group until a suitable replacement could be found. On television, fellow Drifters member Charlie Thomas usually lip-synched the songs that King had recorded with the Drifters.

In May 1960, King left the Drifters, assuming the more memorable stage name Ben E. King in preparation for a successful solo career. Remaining with Atlantic Records on its Atco imprint, King scored his first solo hit with the ballad "Spanish Harlem" (1961).

His next single, "Stand by Me", written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, ultimately would be voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. King cited singers Brook Benton, Roy Hamilton and Sam Cooke as influences for his vocals of the song. "Stand by Me", "There Goes My Baby", and "Spanish Harlem" were named as three of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll; and each of those records plus "Save The Last Dance For Me" has earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. King's other well-known songs include "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)", "Amor", "Seven Letters", "How Can I Forget", "On the Horizon", "Young Boy Blues", "First Taste of Love", "Here Comes the Night", "Ecstasy", and "That's When It Hurts". In the summer of 1963, King had a Top 30 hit with "I (Who Have Nothing)", which reached the Top 10 on New York's radio station, WMCA.

King's records continued to place well on the Billboard Hot 100 chart until 1965. British pop bands began to dominate the pop music scene, but King still continued to make R&B hits, including "What is Soul?" (1966), "Tears, Tears, Tears" (1967), and "Supernatural Thing" (1975). A 1986 re-issue of "Stand by Me" followed the song's use as the theme song to the movie Stand By Me and re-entered the Billboard Top Ten after a 25-year absence.

We here at World News Today send our condolences to the family of Ben E. King. The world lost a great musician.

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