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Ben E. King (born Benjamin Earl Nelson in September 28, 1938 (died of natural causes, aged 76 on April 30, 2015.) in Henderson, North Carolina) was an American soul and pop singer. He is best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me", a top ten hit in both 1961 and 1986.
In 1958, Ben Nelson joined a doo wop group, The Five Crowns. Later that same 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. He 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 other The Drifters hits.
In 1960 he left the group after failing to gain a salary increase and 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 solo career. Remaining on Atlantic, King scored his first solo hit with the stylish, Latin-tinged ballad "Spanish Harlem" (1961). "Stand by Me" was his next recording. "Stand by Me", written by King along with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller was voted one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America. "Stand by Me" and "Spanish Harlem" were named as two of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and were both also given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
King's records continued to place well on the pop charts until 1963, when British pop bands began to dominate the popular music scene. His hits after 1963 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 the movie of the same name.
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