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Obituary: Ben E King

Remembering the golden-voiced Stand By Me soul singer.

BEN E KING, who died aged 76 from coronary problems on April 30, had a magnificent voice, one framed by a gospel grit and southern expression but capable of the most sentimental emotion. He’ll be forever remembered for his two solo hits, Spanish Harlem and Stand By Me, which helped usher in a new era of soul music, one that placed rootsy R&B in a sophisticated pop setting.

When issued in 1961, the first, written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector and produced by Leiber and Stoller, made the US pop Top 10 and US R&B Top 20 and became a blueprint for Spector’s Wall Of Sound; the second, a secular rewrite of the hymn Lord Stand By Me by King with Leiber and Stoller, hit the US R&B No.1 spot and pop No.4 and was an influence on Berry Gordy, paving the way for the Motown sound.


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