Ben E. King (born Benjamin Earl Nelson, September 28, 1938) is an American soul singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me," a U.S. top 10 hit in both 1961 and 1987 and a #1 hit in the UK in 1987, and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group The Drifters.
Early life and career
Ben Nelson was born in Henderson, North Carolina and moved to Harlem, New York City, New York, at the age of nine.
In 1958, he joined a doo wop group called The Five Crowns. Later that year, The Drifters' manager fired the members of the group and replaced them with The Five Crowns, who had performed several engagements with the Drifters. Nelson co-wrote the first hit by the new version of the Drifters, "There Goes My Baby" (1959). He also sang lead, using his birth name, on "Save the Last Dance for Me", a song written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, "Dance With Me", "This Magic Moment", "I Count the Tears" and "Lonely Winds". King only recorded ten songs with The Drifters, including a non-single called "Temptation" which was later redone by Johnny Moore.
In 1960, he left the Drifters after failing to gain a salary increase and what he felt to be a fairer share of the group's royalties. At this point he assumed the more memorable stage name Ben E. King in preparation for a successful solo career. Remaining on Atlantic Records, King scored his first solo hit with the ballad "Spanish Harlem" (1961). "Stand by Me" was his next recording. Written by King along with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, "Stand by Me" was voted one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. "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 were all given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, as well as "Save The Last Dance For Me". His other well known songs were "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)" (which was covered by Aretha Franklin in the 1970s), "Amor", "Seven Letters", "How Can I Forget", "On the Horizon", "Young Boy Blues", "I (Who Have Nothing)", "First Taste of Love", "Here Comes the Night", "Ecstasy", That's When It Hurts , Down Home , River of Tears , Do It in the Name of Love , and It's All Over .
In the summer of 1963, King had a top 30 national hit with "I (Who Have Nothing)", a song that reached the Top 10 on New York's radio station, WMCA. The song has been covered many times, notably by Luther Vandross & Martha Wash, John Lennon, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Sylvester James, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Jedi Mind Tricks, and most recently by American Idol contestant Jordin Sparks, during the , 2007 and , 2007 telecasts. 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 and minor Pop hits. King's other hits were "What is Soul?" (1967), "Supernatural Thing, Part 1" (1975), and the re-issue in 1986 of "Stand by Me", following the song's use as the theme music to Stand By Me movie.
In 1990, King and Bo Diddley featuring Doug Lazy recorded a revamped rap version of The Monotones' 1958 hit song "Book of Love" for the soundtrack of the movie Book of Love. He also recorded a young children's album titled, I Have Songs In My Pocket, written and produced by children's music man, Bobby Susser in 1998, which won the "Early Childhood News' Directors' Choice Award" and "Dr. Toy's/The Institute For Childhood Resources Award."" King performed "Stand by Me" on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2007. Ahmet Ertegun once stated that King had one of the greatest voices in soul history.
Throughout his career he has achieved five number one hits, which were "There Goes My Baby", "Save The Last Dance For Me", "Stand By Me", "Supernatural Thing", and the 1986 re-issue of "Stand By Me". He also earned twelve Top 10 hits and Twenty four Top 40 hits, from 1959 to 1986. He has also been inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a Drifters member and nominated for his career as a solo artist but not yet accepted.
Currently, King is active in his charitable foundation, the Stand By Me Foundation. He has been a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey since the late 1960s.
More recently, King performed "Stand By Me" during a televised tribute to late comedian George Carlin, as he was one of Carlin's favorite artists.
All Ben E. King lyrics
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