"Stand by Me" is a song originally performed by American singer-songwriter Ben E. King, written by King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. According to King, the song title is derived and was inspired by a spiritual composition by Sam Cooke called "Stand by Me Father" (although Mike Stoller has stated differently). This spiritual was sung by The Soul Stirrers with Johnnie Taylor singing lead. There have been over 400 recorded versions of "Stand by Me" performed by many artists. The song has been featured on the soundtrack of the 1986 film Stand by Me.

In 2012 it was estimated that the songs royalties had topped £17 million, making it the sixth highest earning song as of that time. 50% of the royalties were paid to King.[1]

In 2015, King's original version was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant",[2] just under five weeks before King's death. Later in the year the 2015 line up of The Drifters covered the song in tribute to King.

Song informationEdit

According to the documentary History of Rock 'n' Roll, Ben E. King had no intention of recording the song himself when he wrote it.[3] King had written it for The Drifters, who passed on recording it. After the "Spanish Harlem" recording session, he had some studio time left over. The session's producers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, asked if he had any more songs. King played "Stand by Me" on the piano for them. They liked it and called the studio musicians back in to record it.

Stoller recalls it differently:

I remember arriving at our office as Jerry and Ben were working on lyrics for a new song. King had the beginnings of a melody that he was singing a cappella. I went to the piano and worked up the harmonies, developing a bass pattern that became the signature of the song. Ben and Jerry quickly finished the lyrics ... .[4]

In another interview, Stoller said:

Ben E. had the beginnings of a song—both words and music. He worked on the lyrics together with Jerry, and I added elements to the music, particularly the bass line. To some degree, it's based on a gospel song called "Lord Stand By Me". I have a feeling that Jerry and Ben E. were inspired by it. Ben, of course, had a strong background in church music. He's a 50% writer on the song, and Jerry and I are 25% each.... When I walked in, Jerry and Ben E. were working on the lyrics to a song. They were at an old oak desk we had in the office. Jerry was sitting behind it, and Benny was sitting on the top. They looked up and said they were writing a song. I said, "Let me hear it."... Ben began to sing the song a cappella. I went over to the upright piano and found the chord changes behind the melody he was singing. It was in the key of A. Then I created a bass line. Jerry said, "Man that's it!" We used my bass pattern for a starting point and, later, we used it as the basis for the string arrangement created by Stanley Applebaum.[5]

The personnel on the song included Romeo Penque on sax, Ernie Hayes on piano, Al Caiola and Charles McCracken on guitars, Lloyd Trotman on double bass, Phil Kraus on percussion, and Gary Chester on drums, plus a wordless mixed chorus and strings. Songwriting credits on the single were shown as King and Elmo Glick—a pseudonym used by Leiber and Stoller.

King's record went to No. 1 on the R&B charts[6] and was a Top Ten hit on the U.S. charts twice—in its original release in 1961, when it peaked at No. 4, and a 1986 re-release coinciding with its use as the theme song for the movie of the same name following its appearance in the film, when it peaked at No. 9, and also in an advertisement for Levi Jeans. It also reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1987 after its re-release, mostly because of the jeans spot, originally reaching No. 27 on its first release.

The song was not released on an album until it had been out as a single for two years. The song appeared on King's Don't Play That Song! album.

"Stand by Me" was ranked 122nd on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 1999, BMI named it as the fourth most-performed song of the 20th century, with about seven million performances.[7]

On March 27, 2012, the Songwriters Hall of Fame announced that "Stand by Me" would receive its 2012 Towering Song Award and that King would be honored with the 2012 Towering Performance Award for his recording of it.[8]

Structure The song uses a version of the common chord progression now called the 50s progression, which has been called the "'Stand by Me' changes"[9] after the song.

Notable remakesEdit

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Spyder Turner's 1967 version climbed to No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Black Singles chart and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[10] John Lennon recorded his version of the song for his 1975 album Rock 'n' Roll. Lennon's remake was his last hit prior to his five-year retirement from the music industry. This version had a more rock sound than R&B. Lennon filmed a performance of the song for The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975.[11] On 3 May 1975 this version peaked at #20 on the Hot 100, right in front of King's comeback hit "Supernatural Thing - Part I" at #21. The B-side of the single was "Move Over Ms. L," a rare and raucous track also remade by The Who drummer Keith Moon.[12] Mickey Gilley released his version of the song in 1980, it was included in the movie Urban Cowboy. It was his eighth #1 on the country charts and also reached #22 on the Hot 100. Maurice White's 1985 remake peaked at number 6, 11 and 50 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, Adult Contemporary and Billboard Hot 100 charts, respectively.[13] A version of the song released by American R&B group 4 The Cause in 1998 was a #1 hit in Switzerland, reached No. 2 of the Austrian and German singles charts and number three in New Zealand, and was a top-ten hit in several other countries.[14][15] Prince Royce recorded a bachata version of the song as his debut single, changing parts of the lyrics into Spanish. This version peaked No. 8 on Hot Latin Tracks and No. 1 on Tropical Airplay. At the Latin Grammy Awards of 2010, Royce performed a live version of the song along with Ben E. King.[16] Royce's remake received a Lo Nuestro award for "Tropical Song of the Year".[17] Melbourne Victory Football Club adopted "Stand by Me" as their pre-game song before kick-off in the A-League.[18] Italian singer Rita Pavone made an Italian remake entitled "Stai con me" (Stay with me) in 1970.[19]

Chart performanceEdit

Ben E. King

Chart (1961)



US Billboard Hot R&B Singles[20] 1 US Billboard Hot 100[20] 4 UK Singles Chart[21] 27

Chart (1986)



US Billboard Hot 100 9

For the year-end charts in the US, the song was the #63 song of 1961[22] and #67 of 1987.[23]

Chart (1987)



UK Singles Chart[21] 1 Irish Singles Chart 1 German Top 75 2 Swiss Music Charts 3 Dutch Top 40 7 Austria Top 40 7 Sweden Singles Chart 8 Norway Singles Chart 9

John Lennon

Chart (1975)



Canadian RPM Singles Chart 10 US Billboard Hot 100[24] 20 US Cashbox Top 100[24] 20 UK Singles Chart 30 German Singles Chart 22

Mickey Gilley

Chart (1980)



U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 22 U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 3 Canadian RPM Country Chart 3 Canadian RPM Singles Chart 51

Maurice White

Chart (1985)[13]



U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 6 U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 11 U.S. Billboard Billboard Hot 100 50

4 the Cause

Chart (1998)



U.S. Billboard Billboard Hot 100 82 UK Single Charts 12 German Single Charts 2 Austrian Single Charts 2 Swiss Single Charts 1

Prince Royce

Chart (2010)[25]



U.S. Billboard Hot Latin Tracks 8 U.S. Billboard Latin Tropical Airplay 1 U.S. Billboard Heatseekers Songs 17

See alsoEdit

List of number-one R&B singles of 1961 (U.S.) List of UK Singles Chart number ones List of number-one singles of 1987 (Ireland) List of number-one Billboard Hot Tropical Songs of 2010


1.Jump up ^ "BBC4…The World's Richest Songs". Did You Watch It?. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 2.Jump up ^ 3.Jump up ^ "Good Rockin' Tonight". (c) 1995 Time-Life Video. 4.Jump up ^ Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with David Ritz. p. 174. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2009. 5.Jump up ^ Marc Myers, "Interview: Mike Stoller (Part 3)", JazzWax, May 31, 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2014 6.Jump up ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 325. 7.Jump up ^ | News | BMI Announces Top 100 Songs of the Century 8.Jump up ^ Stand By Me Named Towering Song, Ben E. King Towering Performance, March 27, 2012. Accessed April 26, 2012. 9.Jump up ^ "The So-Called 'Flattened Seventh' in Rock". Allan Moore. Popular Music, Vol. 14, No. 2 (May 1995), pp. 185–201. Published by: Cambridge University Press. 10.Jump up ^ An interview with Spyder Turner in 2010 at Soul Express 11.Jump up ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003. 12.Jump up ^ Blaney, John (2005). "1973 to 1975: The Lost Weekend Starts Here". John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0. 13.^ Jump up to: a b The album Maurice White on 14.Jump up ^ 4 The Cause – Stand By Me (Song) at (German) 15.Jump up ^ Chartverfolgung 4 The Cause: Stand By Me (Single) at (German) 16.Jump up ^ Prince Royce All Set To Touch The Sky 17.Jump up ^ Premio Lo Nuestro 2011 Winners List 18.Jump up ^ "Stand By Me". Melbourne Victory. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 19.Jump up ^ 20.^ Jump up to: a b "Ben E. King awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 21.^ Jump up to: a b "Ben E. King". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 22.Jump up ^ 23.Jump up ^ 24.^ Jump up to: a b Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 326. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0. 25.Jump up ^ Prince Royce Billboard Singes

Preceded by "Dancin' Cowboys"

by The Bellamy Brothers Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single (Mickey Gilley version)
August 9, 1980 Succeeded by

"Tennessee River"

by Alabama 

Preceded by "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"

by Aretha Franklin and George Michael UK number one single
Ben E. King version
February 21, 1987
(for three weeks) Succeeded by

"Everything I Own"

by Boy George
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