From the groundbreaking orchestrated productions of the Drifters to his own solo hits, Ben E. King 's approach influenced countless smooth soul singers in his wake, and his records were key forerunners of the Motown sound. King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson in Henderson, North Carolina, in , and sang with his church choir before the family moved to Harlem in In junior high, he began performing with a street corner doo wop group called the Four B's , which won second place in an Apollo Theater talent contest. While still in high school, he was offered a chance to join the Moonglows , but was simply too young and inexperienced to stick. He subsequently worked at his father's restaurant as a singing waiter, which led to an invitation to become the baritone singer in a doo wop outfit called the Five Crowns in The Five Crowns performed several gigs at the Apollo Theater along with the Drifters , whose career had begun to flounder in the years since original lead singer Clyde McPhatter departed. Drifters manager George Treadwell , dissatisfied with the group members' unreliability and lack of success, fired them all in the summer of and hired the Five Crowns to assume the name of the Drifters which he owned. The new Drifters toured for about a year, playing to often hostile audiences who knew they were a completely different group. In early , they went into the studio with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to cut their first records.
He is best known as the singer and co-composer of " Stand by Me "—a U. Top 10 hit , both in and later in when it was used as the theme to the film of the same name , a number one hit in the United Kingdom in , and no. In , King still using his birth name joined a doo-wop group called the Five Crowns.
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King original name Benjamin Earl Nelson; b. September 28, , Henderson, North Carolina—d. Their early s productions of Ben E. In they established their own label, Red Bird, on which the Shangri-Las recorded.
They went on to write for films and theatre; among their last hits, in ,…. The structure of doo-wop music generally featured a tenor lead vocalist singing the melody of the song with a trio or quartet singing background harmony. The term doo-wop is derived from the sounds made by the…. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! Email address. By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice.
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