The song “Stand by Me” is more than one of the golden oldies; a classic R&B, soul song from this first era of rock and roll. The song was a collaboration among Ben E. King and the famous writing/producing team of Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller (yes, another Leiber and Stoller song) soon after King’s departure from R&B doo wop group The Drifters. The song helped to give King a solid reputation as a solo artist. The song is based on the gospel hymn “Stand by Me” by Rev. Charles Albert Tindley, which was written in 1905, and text from Psalm 46:2-3. Among numerous recordings of the song, there was the popular one by The Staple Singers in 1955. (Please click here to listen to their version.)The collaboration of King, Lieber, and Stoller, though, changed the song in many ways — the sound, the arrangement, the lyrics. And, of course, there’s King’s performance. In 1960, “Stand by Me” went to #1 on the R&B chart, #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and #27 on the U.K. chart. “Stand by Me ” was just added ( March 25 ) to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress for being ” culturally significant. ” A great recording , by a great performer, much deserved honor!
The song is featured in the 1986 film Stand by Me and charted again, going to #9 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The film was a coming-of-age drama based on the novella The Body by Stephen King. It starred Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, and Kiefer Sutherland. It was narrated by Richard Dreyfuss. The song was also used in a Levi’s commercial in the U.K. and in 1987 rose to #1 on the U.K. singles chart. There have been covers by Cassius Clay (who became Muhammad Ali), David Ruffin from The Temptations, John Lennon, and Prince Royce, among others.
Ben E. King was born Benjamin Earl King on September 28, 1938, and passed away on April 30, 2015.