Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ben E. King: Stand By Me

It’s time for our Thursday Repeats and Threepeats with a single that was released twice in the US – once in 1961 and then again in 1986. Unusual for a repeat, the two issues both made it to the Top 10. It’s original release charted at #4 on the Hot 100 and at #1 on the R&B chart. When the song was included as the theme song for the movie “Stand by Me,” the second issue of the single charted at #9.

Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” was originally written for The Drifters, but they decided against recording it – so King recorded it himself. If you notice the two singles, the songwriting credits are different. The 1961 release was credited to King and Elmo Glick. On the later release, King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller were listed as songwriters. Leiber and Stoller were also the producers of the record.

So, who was Ben E. King’s songwriting partner(s)? Was it Elmo Glick or Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller? Well, the answer is “yes,” or both or Elmo Glick was actually a pseudonym for Leiber and Stoller – one of the top songwriting teams in the late 50s and early 60s. Recorded over 400 times including Top 40 hit versions by Spyder Turner (#3), John Lennon (#20), and Mickey Gilley (#22), “Stand by Me” earned King, Leiber, and Stoller a ton of royalties over the year – despite whose name was on the label for writing the tune.

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