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Stand By Me Mr. Ben E. King

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Stand By Me Mr. Ben E. King

According to the documentary History of Rock 'n' Roll, Ben E. King wrote "Stand By Me" when he was still the lead singer of The Drifters — but the group didn't want it. As King recalled, the Drifters' manager Mike Stoller told him, "Not a bad song, but we don't need it." But after King went solo, Stoller revived "Stand By Me" at the end of a session with Leiber. "I showed him the song," King said. " Did it on piano a little bit, he (Stoller) called the musicians back into the studio, and we went ahead and recorded it."

Stand By Me

Stoller recalls it differently: “ I remember arriving at our office as Jerry(Jerry Leiber, producer) and Ben were working on lyrics for a new song. King had the beginnings of a melody that he was singing a cappella. I went to the piano and worked up the harmonies, developing a bass pattern that became the signature of the song. Ben and Jerry quickly finished the lyrics.”


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Ben E. King

 

"Stand By Me" was the name of a gospel hymn written by the Philadelphia minister Charles Albert Tindley in 1905. His hymn became popular in churches throughout the American south and was recorded by various Gospel acts in the 1950s.

 

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Charles Albert Tindley

 

In an interview with the TV station WGBH, Jerry Leiber explained: "Ben E. is not a songwriter, he's a singer, he might have written two songs in his whole career. I would guess that this comes out of church. The whole 'stand by me' and the way the release takes out, it sounds like a gospel-type song."


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Jerry Keiber and Mike Stoller

 

Ben E. King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson in Henderson, North Carolina, and moved to New York with his family at the age of nine, part of the migration of black workers from the southern states to the more prosperous cities of the industrialized north. His unusual vocal flexibility, spanning the range from bass to tenor, enabled him to sing virtually all the lead and harmony parts.

 

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The Five Crowns

 

At 20, he joined a doo-wop group called The Five Crowns, who became The Drifters after that group's manager fired the band's previous members. He co-wrote and sang on the band's single “There Goes My Baby,” which reached number two in the US in 1959.

 

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The Drifters (1959)

 

When management refused to raise the musicians’ $100-a-week salary, King quit and went solo. He changed his surname and went on to have hits like “Spanish Harlem”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, and of course “Stand By Me”.

 

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Ben E. King - Spanish Harlem

 

King continued to record throughout the 60s, but the uneven quality of albums such as “Ben E King Sings for Soulful Lovers” and “Seven Letters” indicate that he, or his producers, was unsure of his direction.

 

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Ben E. King - Stand By Me (1961)

 

Further success proved elusive, however, until 1975, when Ertegün encountered him singing in a Miami nightspot and invited him to return to Atlantic. The slinky “Supernatural Thing,” the first record under the new deal, became part of the overture to the disco boom, its success allowing him to emerge from the world of supper clubs and oldies shows.

 

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Ben E. King

 

Later in the decade he collaborated with the Average White Band, and subsequent recordings found him diversifying into jazz alongside Milt Jackson, the vibraphonist of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and David “Fathead” Newman, Ray Charles’s longtime tenor saxophone soloist, with a 2003 album recorded live at the Blue Note club in New York. His last album, “Heart & Soul,” was released in 2010.

 

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Ben E. King

 

King was arguably too urbane and mature a performer, despite his southern roots, to upstage his more unbuttoned rivals at a time when soul music was at its peak. He could nevertheless claim to possess one of the era’s most distinguished voices, his warm tone and polished phrasing indelible associated with definitive performances of a handful of songs that were written with short-term success in mind but whose appeal now seems ageless.

 

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Ben E. King

 

With Stand By Me Ben E. King had his first R&B No 1, and went to No 4 on the pop charts, and a 1986 re-release coinciding with its use as the theme song for the movie of the same name following its appearance in the film, when it peaked at No. 9, and also in an advertisement for Levi Jeans. It also reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1987 after its re-release, mostly because of the jeans spot, originally reaching No. 27 on its first release.

 

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Ben E. King - Stand By Me (1987)

 

Many suggest that John Lennon recorded one of the best cover versions of Stand By Me. He recorded it for his 1975 album "Rock 'n' Roll."

 

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John Lennon - Stand By Me (1987)

 

During an interview with Spinner UK, King was asked if he had any favorite cover versions of this song. He replied: "David Ruffin from the Temptations did a great version of it. And, of course, the one that held up in my head the most was John Lennon's version. He took it and made it as if it should have been his song as opposed to mine. Now there's a [Dominican] singer named Prince [Royce] - he has a version out there that I think is brilliant. And then there's Sean Kingston, with 'Beautiful Girls' [chuckles] - that's another one that did well. So many of them have done well. As a songwriter, it pleases me a lot - you don't always have a chance to write a song that people can relate to."


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Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) - Stand By Me

 

"Stand by Me" was ranked 122nd on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1999, BMI named it as the fourth most-performed song of the 20th century, with about seven million performances.

Ben E. King (Benjamin Earl Nelson), singer and songwriter, born 28 September 1938; died 30 April 2015.

 

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Ben E. King

 

Stand by Me, lyrics


When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No, I won't be afraid
No, I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me

So darling, darling
Stand by me
Oh, stand by me
Oh, stand
Stand by me
Stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
Or the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry
No, I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand
Stand by me

Darling, darling
Stand by me
Oh, stand by me
Oh, stand now
Stand by me
Stand by me (x2)

Whenever you're in trouble won't you
Stand by me,
Oh, stand by me

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The Drifters (1961)

 

Last Updated (Sunday, 03 May 2015 20:12)

 

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