Legend Ben E. King dead at 76
His publicist confirmed the news earlier today
Sad news to report today: soul legend Ben E. King has died suddenly at 76. Publicist Phil Brown broke the news earlier that Ben died on Thursday evening (30 April), though didn't confirm the exact cause of death.
Ben rose to fame as part of The Drifters. He joined the group when the original members were fired and replaced with The Five Crowns. As a member of the band, he enjoyed international success with songs like 'Save the Last Dance for Me' and 'I Count the Tears'.
Ben's biggest successes came after he quit the group in 1960. He'd originally asked for a salary increase and more royalties, which manager George Treadwell refused to honour, and Ben left the group after just two years. He reached the US top 10 with 'Spanish Harlem' and went on to co-write 'Stand By Me' with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Ben always credited his early beginnings as a doo-wop performer for his unique vocal style.
"In my vocal I think you can hear something of my earlier times when I'd sing in subway halls for the echo and perform doo-wop on street corners," he told The Guardian.
"But I had a lot of influences, too – singers like Sam Cooke, Brook Benton and Roy Hamilton. The success of 'Stand By Me' lay in the way Leiber and Stoller took chances, though, borrowing from symphonic scores, and we had a brilliant string arranger."
Performer and close friend Gary U.S. Bonds paid tribute to his friend on Facebook: