R&B music has lost another great. Legendary singer Ben E. King passed away on Thursday, April 30 at the age of 76, the Associated Press reports. No additional details have been revealed as to the cause of his death.
Known for classics such as “Stand by Me” and “Spanish Harlem,” King was no stranger to cranking out hits that stood the test of time. As a member of famous doo-wop/R&B group the Drifters, King provided the lead vocals on the timeless “There Goes My Baby.”
King led several other hits for the Drifters including “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “This Magic Moment” before he departed the group due to a contractual disagreement.
His star continued to rise into his solo efforts with the 1961 ballad “Spanish Harlem” being his first hit single on his own. King also went on to snag the title of one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for “Stand by Me.” The 1962 smash and several of the North Carolina native’s songs were included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
As recently as 2014, King continued to sing around the world. "I toured with Ben to Japan several times over the last few years," Joe Coleman of Leonard, Coleman & Blunt (and formerly of The Platters) said to BET.com. "He was a great guy, a great writer, a wonderful singer and a great friend."
One of King's bandmates from his Drifters days shares that sentiment. "Although I am indeed saddened by the death of my friend and former co-worker... I am proud to have been afforded the privilege of performing alongside this great entertainer," Joe Blunt of LCB writes in a statement, recalling their shows throughout Europe especially.
"In addition to being a great performer and songwriter, Ben E. was one of the most humble, genuine and personable individuals that I have ever encountered in this business," Blunt continued. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, and to his many fans all over the world whose lives were touched by his rich musical legacy."
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(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)