Jump to navigation
1989 Ben E. King
Sat Apr 29 1989
34:02 - Audio Cassette Master; WAV and Mp3 on Server and Cloud
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive
01:27 Ben E. King born in Henderson, NC; stayed there until 11 years old when his father moved the family to New York for the future of the restaurant business; grew up in Harlem on 116th street and 8th Avenue 02:24 King grew up singing with street corner a capella groups; du wop groups, vocal fights ensued block by block; amateur performer through high school until someone looking for a baritone singer for The Five Crowns walked into his father’s restaurant and hired him 03:30 In 1959 the band went to the Apollo theater opening for the original Drifters and Ray Charles and then took over and became the new Drifters 4:02 1st major record deal was in 1959 for a song called “There Goes My Baby” recorded with the Drifters; left the Drifters in late 1960 because of management problems; came back to record with band still recording for Atlantic records 05:21 Demonstration: Allison Miner plays recording of “Young Boy Blues” written by Phil Spector and Doc Pomus; Ben E. King sings OVER HIS OWN VOICE; audience goes wild 06:50 “Young Boy Blues” written at the peak of Phil and Doc’s songwriting career; King realized later in his career he was associated with great writers writing specifically for his voice 7:37 John Lennon listed King as one of his favorite vocalists 08:10 “Save the Last Dance for Me” King took a chance inside himself where he said “this is going to be a hit record”, something that rarely happened in his life. 1960 “This Magic Moment” #4 on the r&b charts, 16 on the pop charts 08:50 Demonstration: Allison Miner plays recording of “Amore, My Love” 10:20 It’s an Italian song; King idolized and respected Brook Benton and Sam Cooke and tried to emulate them on that track 11:06 King’s musical education in Harlem came from the Apollo; did the Wednesday night Amateur show when he had a chance; came in second to a little girl dancing; loved working the stage again later in life as a professional 12:12 He was with Atlantic for many years; Omit Erdogan and Betty Nelson (King’s wife) wrote a song together “Don’t Play that Song” 13:10 Demonstration: “Don’t Play that Song” 14:45 Allison asks “what is it about these songs?! Because we’ve heard them so many times it’s like they’re a part of our souls or something”. King agrees that the songs from the fifties seem to be locked into the bodies of people all over the world; the lyrics in conjunction with the music seem to stay close to you; they have a meaning in peoples’ lives. 15:50 “Spanish Harlem” written by Phil Spector and Jerry Leiber was originally meant for the Drifters; with no intention to be a solo artist Ben E. King was recording for the song and Omit Erdogan gave the song to King, not the band; #4 on the Billboard charts in 1961 16:44 Demonstration: “Spanish Harlem” 18:44 Demonstration: “Stand By Me” From the record “Live at the Apollo” 21:39 1 of the most rewarding things that happened to King in the eighties was that the movie, sparking the revival of the song “Stand By Me”, was a success and that kids are once again listening to more serious music and having good ears again 22:31 The recording of “Stand By Me” was done Live at the Apollo in ‘62 23:02 Audience Questions Open 23:19 The story behind “I Who Have Nothing”: King was in Italy on a promotional tour with manager, Al Wow who was looking for songs and found the song in Italian; brought the song back to the states because of a good hunch and it was translated and became that recording 24:28 King likes to play the most at “anywhere there’s nice people” 24:50 King admits he owes his entire career to his start with the Drifters, enjoys having them as a part of every show 25:23 King says “my music keeps me alive” ignoring the strange and crazy things that have happened with the people along the way; the music is what keeps it together 26:14 King’s favorite female singer: Aretha Franklin; he watched her career and her heart poured out in her records, fighting obstacles in the music industry; favorite male vocalist: Sam Cooke or Brook Benton 27:24 What do you think about “fake Drifters”: King replies the band members would leave and make their own groups 28:08 King still writes and records; collaborating with Atlantic again 28:45 The Drifters didn’t need any more material when King showed them “Stand By Me” so it became a solo song for him 29:56 When King heard his first recording with Atlantic played back for the first time “There Goes My Baby” he was impressed with the musicians and the chance to be professional and record for everyone involved 31:28 Doc Green (one of the original members of the first four) passed away recently; none of them predicted they would be a part of something that would outlive them, perhaps if they did they would have taken better care of themselves 32:53 Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wanted to do something different with the new set of Drifters, less gospel like the previous members, which was more of a Latin flavor that King was familiar with because of growing up in Harlem 33:45 Thank you.
Allison Miner interviewer. Ben E. King.
Public Access is available in the Archive due to copyright restrictions. Copyrights are retained by the participants.