Singer Ben E. King, known for classic hit “Stand By Me,” dies

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Ben E. King in 2012 (Photo: Michael Borkson/Flickr)

Ben E. King in 2012 (Photo: Michael Borkson/Flickr)

(CNN) — Singer Ben E. King, whose classic hit “Stand By Me” became an enduring testament of love and devotion for generations of listeners, has died.

King died Thursday in New Jersey, his booking agent, Randy Irwin, told CNN. He was 76.

Born in North Carolina, King first found success as an original member of the Drifters, the doo-wop group famous for such hits as “Save the Last Dance for Me.”

But he is remembered most for “Stand By Me,” which he composed. The song was a top 10 hit in the U.S. in 1961 and returned to the charts 25 years later when it was prominently featured in “Stand By Me,” Rob Reiner’s 1986 coming-of-age story.

A staple at weddings for decades, the song has been covered hundreds of times.

In 2015, the Library of Congress inducted King’s original version into the National Recording Registry.

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