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"Stand By Me" Singer Ben E. King Dies at 76

The American soul legend was the lead singer of The Drifters.

Ben E King, the American soul singer best known for the hit Stand By Me, has died aged 76.

King was the lead tenor of the second-incarnation of The Drifters, one of the most famous vocal groups of 50s and 60s. But it was his first solo hit, Spanish Harlem, that transformed his career. It remains the most idyllic song that’s ever been written about Harlem.

Stand By Me was first released in 1961, but re-entered that charts decades later when it was used on the soundtrack of the film of the same name, and in a famous Levi’s commercial a few years later. It was the fourth most-played track of the 20th Century on US radio and TV.

King’s songs were often sampled in 80s and 90s early hip-hop, including tracks by KRS-One, De La Soul, and on N.W.A. There was also that Sean Kingston thing.

King was still active in recent years, completing a tour of the UK in 2013.

His publicist announced his death today but the cause is not yet known.