R&B and soul singer Ben E King, best known for the classic song Stand By Me, has died at the age of 76. King started his career in the late 1950s with The Drifters, singing hits including There Goes My Baby and Save The Last Dance For Me.
After going solo, he hit the US top five with Stand By Me in 1961.
It returned to the charts in the 1980s, including a three-week spell at number one in the UK following its use in the film of the same name and a TV advertising campaign.
I had the pleasure to work with him for his last album, Heart & Soul, back in 2010, and it was a thrill, to say the least. Impressively funny, kind, and still had the groove. He will be incredibly missed, so, in tribute, let’s take a look at 8 of his best quotes.
On the music industry today: “Those things don’t happen today. I feel sorry for the kids in the industry today. They have on sunglasses, eat caviar in jet planes, but they’ll never know the true feeling that we did.”
Except if you’re Alicia or John: “I do like what Alicia Keys and John Legend are doing. With their music, you keep your clothes on.”
On the feeling of fooling himself: “I still think my whole career was accidental. I didn’t pursue it. I feel like I’m cheating sometimes.”
On the choice of songs: “You were able to sing something they related to instantly, because it was part of what you felt. It was part of what you had already traveled through. It’s part of the people you were associating with daily. It was all of that.”
“We were doing things with a hundred per cent feeling. It wasn’t programmed. It wasn’t asked for. It wasn’t structured. It was just there. It was very raw. I don’t think the industry would allow that to happen again.”
“Yeah. I’m amateurish. I can play enough to write a song, or strum on a little guitar to write out a song. But, I don’t play well at all. I wouldn’t even attempt for a second to play in public.”
“Of course, the kids who had never heard of a person called Ben E. King were then aware of the name associated with the song. That gave a tremendous lift to me as an artist.”
…and my favourite quote, and it might be the best one ever told to me by an artist:
Ben E. King: Ignore everyone that says you can’t achieve your dreams.
Me: Is that what you did?
Ben: Yes, because I’m crazy.