"Stand by Me" is a song originally performed by Ben E. King and written by King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller, inspired by the spiritual "Lord Stand by Me," plus two lines rooted in Psalms 46:2–3. There have been over 400 recorded versions of the song.
According to the documentary History of Rock 'n' Roll, Ben E. King had no intention of recording the song himself when he wrote it. King had written the song for The Drifters, who passed on the chance to record it. It was not until after the "Spanish Harlem" recording session that he had some studio time left over. The session's producers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, asked if he had any more songs and King played "Stand by Me" on the piano for them. They liked it and called the studio musicians back in to record it.
Mike 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..." The fact that arranger Stan Applebaum could not possibly have dashed off an entire string chart at the end of a session, much less copied and distributed all the parts, supports this less dramatic version of the events. 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.
Either way, King's record went to #1 on the R&B charts and was a Top Ten hit on the U.S. charts twice—in its original release in 1961, when it peaked at #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 #9, and also in an advertisement for Levi Jeans. It also reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1987 after its re-release, mostly because of the jeans spot, originally reaching #27 on its first release.
The song was not released on an album until it had been out as a single for two years. After those two years the song appeared as track seven on King's Don't Play That Song! album.
"Stand by Me" was ranked number 122 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 7 million performances.
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 the song.
The song uses a version of the common chord progression now called the 50s progression, which have been called the "'Stand by Me' changes" after the song.
Notable covers, remixes and samples
There have been over 400 recorded versions of "Stand by Me". Some of the more notable ones include:
- Led Zeppelin performed this song multiple times in concert, as documented in bootlegs.
- Jimi Hendrix also recorded his version that is most like the original, but with more use of the guitar.
- Max Romeo recorded a cover of the song with a reggae influenced twist.
- Ben E. King recorded a song that paraphrased it musically, "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)".
- Little Milton recorded a version for We're Gonna Make It (1965), his first album released on Chess Records.
- Spyder Turner's 1967 version climbed to #3 on the U.S. Billboard Black Singles chart and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
- Adriano Celentano released an Italian and Spanish version of this song (Pregherò) in album Non mi dir.
- The Searchers included the song on their 1963 debut album Meet the Searchers.
- Muhammad Ali (whose name then was Cassius Clay) recorded the song in 1964.
- Billy Joe Royal recorded a version of the song in 1968.
- Otis Redding recorded a version for his album Pain in My Heart.
- John Lennon recorded his version of the song for his 1975 album Rock 'n' Roll. Lennon's cover of "Stand by Me" was his last hit prior to his five-year retirement from the music industry. This version of the song had a more rock sound than R&B. The B-side of the single was "Move Over Ms. L," a rare and raucous track also covered by The Who drummer Keith Moon. The American single "Stand By Me" and "Move Over Ms. L" reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1977, Capitol Records issued an Oldies reissue 45 on its Capitol Starline label which featured "Stand By Me" and "Woman Is the Nigger of the World."
- Ry Cooder recorded a version for his 1976 album Chicken Skin Music.
- Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have a version which was featured in the hit musical Smokey Joe's Cafe.
- Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire recorded his version of the song on his 1985 album Maurice White. White's 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.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for the 1987 Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "When the Chips Are Down".
- Mickey Gilley performed a version which was featured in the hit 1980 film Urban Cowboy. It was a #1 country hit for him in August of that year, also reaching #22 on the Pop charts and #3 at Adult Contemporary.
- Mink DeVille covered the song at Montreux Jazz Festival 1982.
- The Gaslight Anthem has been known to cover the first verse and chorus of the song in the key of B♭ before leading it into their single I'da Called You Woody, Joe, which is also in the same key.
- Pennywise recorded a punk cover which was originally released on the EP Wildcard in 1989.
- Timon and Pumbaa released a music video of Timon performing the song while Pumbaa gets tortured during the chorus.
- Ronnie Milsap recorded a gospel-altered version on his recent album Then Sings My Soul.
- Gigi D'Agostino released a dance version of this song.
- Seal covered the song on his album Soul.
- Lemmy Kilmister performed the song with Dave Lombardo and DJ Baron for the soundtrack of the 2009 Flip Skateboards video "Extremely Sorry."
- Overboard performed an a cappella version of the song for their 2008 album Castaways.
- Big Mean Carl and various Muppet bunnies performed the song in a popular YouTube music video.
- Stephen King and Warren Zevon recorded a version for the charity compilation album Stranger than Fiction.
- Justin Mauriello recorded a version of this song in 2010 for his cover album Justin Mauriello Sings the Hits.
- Prince Royce recorded a bachata version of the song as his debut single, changing parts of the lyrics into Spanish. This version peaked #8 on Hot Latin Tracks and #1 on Tropical Airplay. At the Latin Grammy Awards of 2010, Royce performed a live version of the song along with Ben E. King. Royce's cover received a Lo Nuestro award for "Tropical Song of the Year".
- A version of the song released by American R&B group 4 the Cause in 1998 was a #1 hit in Switzerland, reached #2 of the Austrian and German singles charts and number three in New Zealand, and was a top-ten hit in several other countries.
- George Lam recorded the song in Cantonese in 1986, on his album 千億個夜晚 (100 Billion Nights).
- Anita Mui recorded the song in Cantonese in 1988, on her album 夢裡共醉 (Drunken Dreams).
- "Stand By Me" was the first recording made by the Playing for Change project in 2004, with interpretations of the song by musicians around the world being compiled into a video version that has had over 42 million hits on YouTube.
- "Dildaara (Stand By Me)" by Shafqat Amanat Ali in the original soundtrack of Ra.One recreated by Vishal-Shekhar
- Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Andy Madadian recorded a version of this song on June 24, 2009. The first part of the song is sung by both Jon and Andy in Persian, while the rest continues in English.
- Plan B often performs a cover of the song during live performances, sometimes as part of a soul medley.
Ben E. King
|US Billboard Hot R&B Singles||1|
|US Billboard Hot 100||4|
|UK Singles Chart||27|
|US Billboard Hot 100||9|
|UK Singles Chart||1|
|Swiss Music Charts||3|
|Dutch Top 40||7|
|Austria Top 40||7|
|Sweden Singles Chart||8|
|Norway Singles Chart||9|
|Canadian RPM Singles Chart||10|
|US Billboard Hot 100||20|
|UK Singles Chart||30|
|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|
- ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002, p. 382. Record Research.
- ^ "Good Rockin' Tonight". (c) 1995 Time-Life Video.
- ^ Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with David Ritz. p. 174. Published by Simon & Schuster, 2009.
- ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 325.
- ^ BMI.com | News | BMI Announces Top 100 Songs of the Century
- ^ www.songhall.org: Stand By Me Named Towering Song, Ben E. King Towering Performance, March 27, 2012. Accessed April 26, 2012.
- ^ "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.
- ^ Don't Play That Song (You Lied) Who Sampled
- ^ An interview with Spyder Turner in 2010 at Soul Express
- ^ Adriano Celentano - Rezaré (Pregherò)
- ^ CELENTANO - Pregherò (Stand By Me)
- ^ Song Stand By Me, recorded in 1964 by Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay.
- ^ Different versions ofStand By Me
- ^ 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.
- ^ Stand By Me - Julian Lennon @YouTube.com Retrieved 7-7-2012.
- ^ a b The album Maurice White on allmusic.com
- ^ Prince Royce All Set To Touch The Sky
- ^ Premio Lo Nuestro 2011 Winners List
- ^ 4 The Cause - Stand By Me (Song) at austriancharts.at (German)
- ^ Chartverfolgung 4 The Cause: Stand By Me (Single) at musicline.de (German)
- ^ Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around the World, YouTube, 2008.
- ^ Prince Royce Billboard Singes Allmusic.com