Soul legend Benjamin Earl Nelson, best known as Ben E. King, has died, according to reports first shown on the BBC. He was 76 years old.
Born in North Carolina, King spent most of his formative years in New York City and started singing in vocal groups, eventually becoming a member of the doo-wop group The Five Crowns. The group was spotted by George Treadwell, then the manager of The Drifters, and when Treadwell fired the original members of his group, he hired The Five Crowns to be the new Drifters. As a member of the group, King sang on the hits “Save The Last Dance For Me” and “This Magic Moment,” and he co-wrote the group’s 1959 hit “There Goes My Baby.”
A contract dispute led to King quitting the Drifters and going solo, and he struck it big in with his second single “Stand By Me.” The song was not only a hit in its time; it re-entered the charts at various points in the fifty years following its release, and it was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
King was going strong well into his later years, having completed a tour of the United Kingdom in 2013.