Legendary R&B and soul singer Ben E. King passed away on Thursday, April 30, his publicist confirmed to the Telegraph
. His publicist says the singer -- best known for his 1961 hit "Stand By Me" -- died of natural causes.
King first started his career as a member of The Drifters, co-writing and singing on classics like "There Goes My Baby," "Save the Last Dance for Me" and "That Magic Moment." He went solo in 1960, with successful hits, like "Spanish Harlem" and "Stand By Me."
"Stand By Me" was eventually voted as one of the "Songs of the Century" by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and was ranked 122nd on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004. It's been covered multiples times, and was even sampled in Sean Kingston's 2007 hit "Beautiful Girls."
Fellow musician Gary "U.S." Bonds mourned King's death on Facebook.
"With an extremely heavy heart, I must say goodbye to one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls that I have had the privilege of knowing and calling my friend for more than 50 years - Mr. Ben E. King," he wrote. "Thank you Ben E. for your friendship and the wonderful legacy you leave behind."