Singer Ben E. King Passes At Age 76 [VIDEO]
Singer Ben E. King, best noted for his epic classic "Stand By Me" has passed away at the age of 76. King reportedly passed last night at his home in New Jersey after suffering a heart ailment.
King's iconic hit reached the top five on Billboard's chart in 1961, but returned to the charts after being used in the 1986 Rob Reiner coming-of-age comedy of the same name. Based on the Stephen King novella The Body, the movie, which starred Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell told the story of four boys who hike across the countryside trying to locate the body of a missing child.
Most people know that King turned in one of the most classic performances in pop and soul music, but few realize that he also wrote the song. King originally came to prominence as the lead singer of the doo-wop group the Five Crowns, but when Atlantic Records fired the original members of the Drifters in 1958, thy were replaced by the members of the Five Crowns, with King taking the lead vocal duty with the group.
King and his management team would get into a contract dispute with the Drifters and Atlantic over a salary increase and royalties, which led to his departure from the group in 1960. A string of hits followed including "Spanish Harlem", "Save The Last Dance For Me", "Young Boy Blues" and "Stand By Me", which would voted on of the Songs of the 20th Century by the Recording Industry Association of America and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ranked the song at #3 in its list of its 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 1987, and as a drifter in 1988. He was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009 and in March of 2012, it was announced by the Songwriters Hall of Fame that "Stand By Me" would receive the 2012 Towering Song Award and that King would be honored with the 2012 Towering Performance Award for his recording of the song.
In later years he started the Stand By Me Foundation, which worked throughout New Jersey to provide funds for deserving underprivileged student so they can continue their education. King last toured in 2014, despite recurring health problems. He is survived by his wife Betty, to whom he was married for 51 years.