Benjamin Earl King, better known as Ben E. King, is an American soul singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of “Stand by Me,” a U.S. Top 10 hit in both 1961 and 1986 and a #1 hit in the UK in 1987, and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group The Drifters.
In 1958, King (still using his birth name) joined a doo wop group called The Five Crowns. Later in 1958, The Drifters’ manager George Treadwell fired the members of the original Drifters, and replaced them with The Five Crowns. King had a string of R&B hits with the group on Atlantic Records. He co-wrote and sang lead on the first Atlantic hit by the new version of the Drifters, “There Goes My Baby” (1959). He also sang lead on a succession of hits by the team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, including “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” and “I Count the Tears.” King only recorded thirteen songs with The Drifters—ten lead vocal performances and three backing other lead singers—including a non-single called “Temptation” (later redone by Drifters vocalist Johnny Moore).