Singer Ben E King dies at 76

Singer Ben E King dies at 76

R&B singer Ben E King, best known for the song "Stand By Me", has died aged 76.King passed away on Thursday of natural causes, reported Us magazine.

The soul singer rose to fame in the late 1950s with his vocal group The Drifters, with songs including "There Goes My Baby" and "Save The Last Dance For Me".

He found great solo success, however, with "Stand By Me", in 1961. The song was a top-five hit that year and returned to the top 10 25 years later, when it was featured prominently in a hit movie of the same name based on a Stephen King story.

King was born as Benjamin Earl Nelson in Henderson, North Carolina, in 1938 and moved to New York's Harlem neighbourhood as a child.

He later fell into the city's burgeoning doo-wop scene, singing briefly with The Moonglows and later joining a group called The Five Crowns.

When the original version of The Drifters, which become popular recording such R&B hits as "Money Honey" and "Fools Fall in Love", broke up following the departure of lead signer Clyde McPhatter, Atlantic Records signed the Five Crowns and recorded the group under the Drifters' name.

At the first recording session in 1959, the new Drifters recorded "There Goes My Baby", a song King co-wrote and on which sang lead. Producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller gave the song a Brazilian beat and strings, practically unheard of for an R&B record at the time.

It became the Drifters' biggest record to date, climbing to number two on the Billboard pop chart.

King was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.The Songwriters Hall of Fame announced in 2012 that "Stand By Me" would receive its 2012 Towering Song Award and that King would be honored with the 2012 Towering Performance Award for his recording of the song.

The singer was active in his charitable foundation, the Stand By Me Foundation, which helps to provide education to deserving youths. He was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey, from the late 1960s.

King toured the United Kingdom in 2013 and played concerts in the United States as late as 2014, despite reported health problems. 

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