Ben E. King, whose voice echoed through America and around the world for more than half a century, has died at 76. King most memorably sang “Stand By Me”, an enduring classic that gave title to Rob Reiner’s emotionally powerful 1986 coming-of-age movie, Stand By Me. The sentiment in the song, as expressed by King’s indelible phrasing, matched something in the very marrow of friendship and the bonds that link people together. King recorded “Stand By Me” in 1961 and it was a top 10 hit immediately. Then it took on a long life of its own.
King, who started out in The Drifters, had 12 Top Ten hits during his solo career, including “Spanish Harlem” which preceded “Stand By Me.” If it’s so that angels might raise up a soul upon death, then the angels have some work to do today: Ben E. King had some kind of soul. Just listen: