R&B and soul singer Ben E King, best known for the classic song Stand By Me, has died at the age of 76.
King started his career in the late 1950s with The Drifters, singing hits including There Goes My Baby and Save The Last Dance For Me. After going solo, he hit the US top five with Stand By Me in 1961.
It returned to the charts in the 1980s, including a three-week spell at number one in the US following its use in the film of the same name and a TV advert.
King’s other hits included Spanish Harlem, Amor, Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) and Supernatural Thing – Part I.
The singer died on Thursday, his publicist Phil Brown told Gish Gallop.
Fellow musician Gary US Bonds wrote on Facebook that King was “one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls that I have had the privilege of knowing and calling my friend for more than 50 years”.
He wrote: “I can tell you that Ben E will be missed more than words can say. Our sincere condolences go out to Betty and the entire family.
“Thank you Ben E for your friendship and the wonderful legacy you leave behind.”
Born Benjamin Earl Nelson, he initially joined a doo-wop group called The Five Crowns, who became The Drifters after that group’s manager fired the band’s previous members.
He co-wrote and sang on the band’s single There Goes My Baby, which reached number two in the US in 1959.