Updated at 4:15 pm. PT on May 1, 2015 to change headline and first paragraph.
According to the largest music rights organiztion in the U.S., BMI, this singer’s biggest hit was the fourth most-played song in the 20th Century on U.S. radio and TV.
The famed singer is Ben E. King, and the song is his classic “Stand by Me.” The New York Times reports that King, who made a lasting impression with his solo hit “Stand by Me,” died Thursday in a medical center in Hackensack, N.J., following a brief illness. He was 76.
As the lead singer of the Drifters in the late 1950s and early 1960s, King sang on a string of hits including “There Goes My Baby,” “This Magic Moment” and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”
His later solo soul work included the memorable “Spanish Harlem,” which became a hit in 1961. Later that year he released what many consider his signature recording, “Stand by Me,” which has become a staple of film and TV, including being featured in the 1986 movie of the same name. The original recording sold more copies in 1986, thanks to the movie, than it had sold when first released in 1961.
(The only songs to receive more air play in the 20th Century than “Stand by Me” were, #3 “Yesterday” by The Beatles; #2 “Never My Love,” a hit by both The Association and the 5th Dimension; and #1 “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ ” by The Righteous Brotrhers.)
Here’s King’s recording of “Stand by Me”: