Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Singer Ben E. King, Best Known For 'Stand By Me,' Dies At 76

Ben E. King
Michael Ochs Archives
Getty Images
Ben E. King

Soul Singer Ben E. King, best known for his hit "Stand By Me," has died, his publicist says. He was 76.

Phil Brown, the publicist, says King died Thursday of natural causes.

Born Sept. 28, 1938, in Henderson, N.C., King moved to Harlem, N.Y., at age 9, his biography says.

He began his career in the 1950s with The Drifters and sang on hits including "Save The Last Dance For Me." But it was "Stand by Me," released in 1961, that sealed his worldwide fame and musical legacy. The song reached No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 list at the time of its release. It re-entered the top 10 in 1986.

There have been several notable covers of the song, including by John Lennon.

Earlier this year, the Library of Congress inducted King's version of the song into the National Recording Registry, saying it was the singer's "incandescent vocal that made it a classic."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.