Harsha Masand | May, 02 2015
Singer Ben E. King, best known for the song "Stand by me", is dead. He was 76.
The singer died on Thursday at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
His publicist confirmed the news on Friday, saying the singer died of natural causes.
Ben's longtime friend Gary U.S. Bonds paid tribute to him on social networking website Facebook.
He wrote: "With an extremely heavy heart, I must say goodbye to 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 - Mr. Ben E. King.
"Speaking for myself, my family & my Roadhouse Rockers family, 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," Bonds added.
Wil Wheaton and Jerry O'Connell, cast members of the 1986 movie "Stand by Me", which used the song as its theme song, paid a tribute to Ben on micro-blogging website Twitter.
Wheaton tweeted: "I only met Ben E. King once, when we did the music video for 'Stand By Me'.He was a kind and gentle man. May he rest in peace."
O'Connell posted: "You know you are good when John Lennon covers your song. Ben E. King was a wonderful and immensely talented man."
The 76-year-old was a lead vocalist of The Drifters, whose hits included "There goes my baby", "Save the last dance for me" and "This magic moment", before leaving the band in 1960 due to contract dispute.
He released his first solo hit track "Spanish Harlem" in 1961 before "Stand by me".
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