Benjamin Earl King (born September 28, 1938), better known as Ben E. King, is an American soul singer. He is perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me," a U.S. top 10 hit in both 1961 and 1987 and a #1 hit in the UK in 1987, and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group The Drifters.
King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson in Henderson, North Carolina and moved to Harlem, New York City, New York, at the age of nine.
In 1958, he joined a doo wop group called The Five Crowns. Later that year, The Drifters' manager fired the members of the group and replaced them with The Five Crowns, who had performed several engagements with the Drifters. Nelson co-wrote the first hit by the new version of the Drifters, "There Goes My Baby" (1959). He also sang lead, using his birth name, on "Save the Last Dance for Me", a song written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, "Dance With Me", "This Magic Moment", "I Count the Tears" and "Lonely Winds". King only recorded ten songs with The Drifters, including a non-single called "Temptation" which was later redone by Johnny Moore. King's career with The Drifters was so brief after There Goes My Baby hit the charts , he was never again given a chance by Drifters' manager George Treadwell to perform with the group on tour or on television due to a argument about kings contract. After the dispute settled, king was hired only to sing until they found a replacement. On television , A fellow Drifters member Charlie Thomas usually lip sung the songs that Ben E. King recorded with the Drifters.