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Legendary soul singer Ben E. King, famous for his enduring hit about love and friendship Stand By Me, has died at age 76.
Reports CNN, King died Thursday of natural causes in New Jersey. King was born as Benjamin Earl Nelson in North Carolina, and first found success as an entertainer as an early member of the Drifters, responsible for such hits as There Goes My Baby and Save the Last Dance for Me.
It was in 1961 that his solo song Stand By Me became a top ten hit in the US charts, where it returned again when it featured in the 1986 Rob Reiner film of the same name.
Stand By Me has been covered numerous times over the years – including famous renditions by John Lennon and Muhammad Ali. It was later voted one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America and and was named by BMI as the fourth-most played song of the century on radio and TV.
King’s other solo hits include Spanish Harlem and Don’t Play That Song (You Lied).
Many artists have taken to social media to offer their sympathies at the soul legend’s passing. King is survived by his wife, Betty, three children and six grandchildren.
Listen: Ben E King – Stand By Me
Ben E King such a great artist , good humble man. R.I.P
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) May 1, 2015
Today we lost Ben E. King, a wonderful interpreter of songs. Thank you Ben. Rest in peace.
— Carole King (@Carole_King) May 1, 2015
Rest in peace, legendary Ben E. King. #StandbyMe
— Anthony Hamilton (@HamiltonAnthony) May 1, 2015
Ben E King will be missed, but those great vocal performances will live forever. – Huey http://t.co/2VjGrVqNQG
— Huey Lewis (@Huey_Lewis_News) May 1, 2015