LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Singer Ben E. King, best known for his soul classic “Stand By Me”, has died, according to his agent. He was 76.

As a member of the Drifters, King co-wrote and sang lead on “There Goes My Baby.” The band had a string of hits featuring King, including “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “This Magic Moment,” before he left in a contract dispute.

The 1961 ballad “Spanish Harlem” gave King his first solo hit, but it was “Stand By Me” that cemented King’s R&B legacy.

Written with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, “Stand By Me” was chosen one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America.

King also had his most popular song honored last month by the Library of Congress when it was named among 25 audio recordings to be preserved in its National Recording Registry.

“I think this is one of the greatest moments of my life,” said King.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2015 Celebrity Deaths

With its unmistakable baseline — and message of enduring connection — King wrote and recorded “Stand by Me” in 1960.

“It took no time at all, maybe a day or two,” said King. “I’m not really a good songwriter but I am quick.”

He was quick enough to improvise the song’s signature moment in the studio.

“I didn’t have anything to say so I said, ‘darling, darling,'” remembered King. “That was filling time.”

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments