American R&B and soul singer Ben E. King died Thursday at the age of 76. King, who is best known for his hit song “Stand By Me,” began his career in the 1950s, singing for The Drifters. The group had several hits, including “There Goes My Baby” and “Save the Last Dance.” King told BBC Breakfast in 2011 that he co-wrote “Stand By Me” while performing with The Drifters, but the group’s manager turned the song down.
King left The Drifters in 1960 after being denied a raise. He recorded his first solo hit, “Spanish Harlem,” in 1961. “Stand By Me” followed later that year, and went on to become one of the most broadcast songs of the 20th century. The Library of Congress added “Stand By Me” to its National Recording Registry in March.
King’s death was confirmed Friday by his publicist Phil Brown.