|Thirty four years have passed since Ben E. King made his first musical mark with The Drifters, and he still remains one of the most expressive vocalists in musical history.
Born in Henderson, North Carolina, this Artist had his first formal experience in hometown church choirs. Later, his family moved to New York Cityís Harlem and it was there that Ben E. founded his first group, called The Four B's (Ben E., Billy, Billy & Bobby) while attending James Fenimore Junior High.
They were neighborhood buddies and marked Ben E.ís first singing experience outside of gospel music.
While rock ní roll devotees may fondly recall the early years of The Drifters, between 1953 and 1958, it is still the two year period of 1958 to 1960, when Ben E. King sang lead with the group, that endures as their "golden age".
In 1959, the original Drifters had disbanded, leaving their manager with a recording contract to fulfill, as well as long term performance contract for annual appearances at Harlemís Apollo Theater.
A promising young group known as The Five Crowns, with the new addition of Ben E. King (not yet 21) was chosen to take The Drifters name and step into their shoes."There Goes My Baby", the first single record by The "new" Drifters, became the first record by the group to reach the Top 5 on both the R&B and Pop charts. Ben E. sang "Lead" and co-wrote the tune.
The Drifters had hit after hit: , "Dance With Me", "This Magic Moment" and "Save The Last Dance For Me", but fate intervened with a mid-winter snowstorm that would change Ben E.ís career forever. The weather prevented the other three Drifters from attending a session.
The musicians, engineers and recording personnel decided not to waste the time and allowed Ben E. to record two songs. The first single, "Spanish Harlem", which became one of the biggest hits of 1961.
Ben E. was honored as the outstanding vocalist of the year for this single and "Stand By Me", which was his next hit, going straight to Number 1 on the charts and was re-released in 1986, when the movie of the same name was in theaters (story by Stephen King). An entire new generation of fans were privy to the voice that responsible for such classics as, "Amor", "Donít Play That Song", "Supernatural Thing" and "Do It In The Name Of Love", just to mention a few.
Truly a Super Star...
Stand By Me
Artist: Ben E. King
Peak: #4 Lyrics by: Jeffrey Leiber/Michael Stoller
Year: 1961 Week peaked: 6/18/1961
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me.....
And darlin, darlin, stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me
If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
And darlin, darlin, stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah
----- guitar -----
Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me
Darlin, darlin, stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me....