Stand by Me (song)

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This article is about the song originally recorded by Ben E. King. For other songs of the same name, see Stand by Me (disambiguation).
"Stand by Me"
Single by Ben E. King
from the album Don't Play That Song!
B-side "On the Horizon"
Released 1961
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded October 27, 1960
Genre Soul, rhythm and blues
Length 2:57
Label Atco
Writer(s) Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer(s) Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Ben E. King singles chronology
"First Taste of Love"
"Stand by Me"
"Stand by Me"
Single by John Lennon
from the album Rock 'n' Roll
B-side "Move Over Ms. L"
Released March 10, 1975
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1974
Genre Rock
Length 3:26
Label Apple
Writer(s) Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer(s) John Lennon
John Lennon singles chronology
"#9 Dream"
"Stand by Me"
"(Just Like) Starting Over" (1980)
"Stand by Me"
Single by Maurice White
from the album Maurice White
Released 1985
Format 7", 12"
Genre Rhythm and blues, soul
Length 4:07
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer(s) Maurice White
"Stand by Me"
Single by Mickey Gilley
from the album Encore
B-side "Here Comes the Hurt Again"
Released 1980
Format 7"
Recorded 1980
Genre Country
Length 3:38
Label Epic
Writer(s) Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer(s) Jim Ed Norman
Mickey Gilley singles chronology
"True Love Ways"
"Stand by Me"
"That's All That Matters"
"Stand by Me"
Single by Prince Royce
from the album Prince Royce
Released 2010
Recorded 2009
Genre Bachata
Length 3:25
Label Top Stop Music
Writer(s) Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
Producer(s) Sergio George
Prince Royce singles chronology
"Stand by Me"
"Corazón Sin Cara"

"Stand by Me" is a song originally performed by American singer-songwriter Ben E. King. It was written by King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, inspired by the spiritual "Lord Stand by Me",[1] plus two lines rooted in Psalms 46:2–3. There have been over 400 recorded versions of the song. The song is featured on the soundtrack of the 1986 film Stand by Me.

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".

Song information[edit]

According to the documentary History of Rock 'n' Roll, Ben E. King had no intention of recording the song himself when he wrote it.[2] 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 ... .[3]

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.[4]

The personnel on the song included Romeo Penque on sax, Ernie Hayes on piano, Al Caiola and Charles McCracken on guitars, Lloyd Trotman on bass, Phil Kraus on percussion, and Gary Chester on drums. 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[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]


The song uses a version of the common chord progression now called the 50s progression, which has been called the "'Stand by Me' changes"[8] after the song.

Notable covers[edit]

There have been over 400 recorded versions of "Stand by Me". Some of the more notable ones are:

In 1986 and 1988, Hong Kong singer George Lam and Anita Mui covered this song in Cantonese.

Chart performance[edit]

Ben E. King[edit]

Chart (1961) Peak
US Billboard Hot R&B Singles[21] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 4
UK Singles Chart[22] 27
Chart (1986) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 9
Chart (1987) Peak
UK Singles Chart[22] 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
Swiss Music Charts 3
Dutch Top 40 7
Austria Top 40 7
Sweden Singles Chart 8
Norway Singles Chart 9

John Lennon[edit]

Chart (1975) Peak
Canadian RPM Singles Chart 10
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 20
US Cashbox Top 100[23] 20
UK Singles Chart 30

Mickey Gilley[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
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[edit]

Chart (1985)[13] Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 6
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 11
U.S. Billboard Billboard Hot 100 50

Prince Royce[edit]

Chart (2010)[24] Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Latin Tracks 8
U.S. Billboard Latin Tropical Airplay 1
U.S. Billboard Heatseekers Songs 17

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002, p. 382. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc., ISBN=0-89820-155-1.
  2. ^ "Good Rockin' Tonight". (c) 1995 Time-Life Video.
  3. ^ Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with David Ritz. p. 174. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2009.
  4. ^ Marc Myers, "Interview: Mike Stoller (Part 3)", JazzWax, May 31, 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2014
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942–2004. Record Research. p. 325. 
  6. ^ | News | BMI Announces Top 100 Songs of the Century
  7. ^ Stand By Me Named Towering Song, Ben E. King Towering Performance, March 27, 2012. Accessed April 26, 2012.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ An interview with Spyder Turner in 2010 at Soul Express
  10. ^ Different versions ofStand By Me
  11. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003. 
  12. ^ 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. ^ a b The album Maurice White on
  14. ^ Prince Royce All Set To Touch The Sky
  15. ^ Premio Lo Nuestro 2011 Winners List
  16. ^ 4 The Cause – Stand By Me (Song) at (German)
  17. ^ Chartverfolgung 4 The Cause: Stand By Me (Single) at (German)
  18. ^ Stand by Me (song) at AllMusic. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  19. ^ Disney Robs Spark From Twain Tale, Chicago Sun-Times
  20. ^ Sneider, Jeff (August 1, 2014). "The Top 10 Songs in This Year's Movie Trailers That TheWrap Is 'Crazy in Love' With". The Wrap. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Ben E. King awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Ben E. King". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ 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