Ben wrote Stand By Me for his old band!
Starting out with The Drifters, Ben E. King had great success with There Goes My Baby, This Magic Moment, and Save The Last Dance For Me in just two years between 1959-60.
As he left to embark on a remarkable solo career, he offered the boys his latest composition, Stand By Me but they turned it down!
His first single as a solo artist, Spanish Harlem (1961), was a hit and has since been covered by Aretha Franklin, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, and of course, The Drifters!
In the same session as he recorded Spanish Harlem, the famed producers, and writers, Leiber & Stoller, asked Ben if he had anything else as they had finished early for the day.
Ben played Stand By Me, the songwriters came up with the bass line, called the session musicians back in, and recorded one of the most famous tunes in the history of music.
As Stand By Me was the follow-up to Spanish Harlem, and he would never release anything of the same caliber again, Ben E. King’s best years really were ‘59-61.
The lack of any more massive tune wasn’t for lack of trying, Ben released many more albums, and singles, and kept touring for decades to come. Even though some of his efforts charted, his best tunes remained those with The Drifters and his first two singles as a solo artist.
In 1986, when Steven King’s film Stand By Me was released, Ben’s old hit was the obvious choice and it got back in the charts again, making it to #1 in the U.K.
On the covers band’s set list, Stand By Me has been a regular since its release, very popular as a first dance but also for finishing off the night and calming everyone down.
Ben E. King | Related pages
Stand By Me
| A | A | F#m | F#m |
When the night has come, and the land is dark.
| D | E | A | A |
And the moon, is the only, light we’ll see.