Ben E. King
One of the most distinctive voices in 1960s R&B, Ben E. King led the second version of the venerable Drifters to chart-topping glory with "There Goes My Baby" (1959) and "Save the Last Dance for Me" (1960), before enjoying solo success with one of the most enduring ballads of all time, 1960's "Stand by Me." Possessed of a burnished baritone and exceptional phrasing, King was one of the key vocalists who helped to bridge the worlds of R&B and pop in the early 1960s, and remained a popular singer until the mid-1960s, when he was displaced by the British Invasion. King rebounded briefly in the 1970s with the funky "Supernatural Thing," but returned to the spotlight in full force with the 1986 reissue of "Stand by Me," which was featured in the 1986 Rob Reiner film hit of the same name. King continued to mine his extraordinary catalog of hits for the next two decades while collecting numerous accolades, including his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. A defining figure in R&B for over half a century, Ben E. King was one of its most beloved and enduring architects. King died at the age of 76 on April 30, 2015.