HACKENSACK, NJ (CelebrityAccess) — Ben E. King, whose soulful baritone vocals in songs such as “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand by Me” left an indelible mark on R&B, died in New Jersey on Thursday. He was 76 at the time of his passing.
According to the New York Times, King's lawyer said that King died at Hackensack University Medical after a brief, unspecified illness.
King's introduction to the music world happened in 1956 after he was hired as a replacement singer for The Drifters, following the drafting of the band's former lead singer, Clyde McPhatter, into the Army.
Backed by the songwriting duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the group would go on to chart success, recording hits such as "Dance With Me," "There Goes My Baby," and "Save the Last Dance for Me," which hit #1 on the Billboard charts.
In the 1960s, King struck out on his own as a solo artist, with hits such as the aforementioned “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand by Me.”
King would go on to experiment with funk and soul music, continuing to release albums with Atlantic Records into the mid-'80s and continued to tour and release albums regularly after that, with final album "Heart & Soul" released on CanAm Records in 2011.
King was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a Drifter, nominated to that august body as a solo artist, and he was a member of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
According to The Times, King was survived by his mother, his wife, two daughters, four sisters, four sisters, and six grandchildren. – Staff Writers