Ben E. King - Stand By Me - 1961


Stand by Me is a classic song originally performed by Ben E. King in 1961. It's a timeless piece that has resonated with generations for its message of loyalty and support. The song was written by Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller, and has since become one of the most covered songs in the history of popular music.

History and Background

Stand by Me was inspired by the spiritual "Lord Stand by Me," and it also incorporates the bassline from the song "Stand By Me Father" by the Soul Stirrers. The title is a direct reference to a biblical psalm, which speaks of God's presence in times of trouble. Ben E. King's version was not the first recording, but it is by far the most famous.

  1. Learn more about Ben E. King's life and career
  2. Explore the influence of gospel music on popular songs
  3. Discover the music of The Soul Stirrers

Musical Composition

The song features a unique blend of R&B, soul, and gospel influences. It's known for its simple yet powerful arrangement, primarily focusing on King's soulful voice, a bass line, and strings. The famous bassline, played by Lloyd Trotman, is a critical element of the song, giving it a strong rhythmic foundation.

  1. Explore the genre of Rhythm and Blues
  2. Dive into the world of Soul music
  3. Learn about musical arrangements

Cultural Impact

Since its release, "Stand by Me" has been recorded and performed by numerous artists across various genres. It was featured in the 1986 film of the same name, which helped revive its popularity. The song's universal message of support and friendship has made it an anthem in times of social and political changes.

  1. Discover other famous cover versions
  2. Explore music of the 1980s
  3. Learn how music can influence social change

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

What inspired Ben E. King to write "Stand by Me"? (The spiritual "Lord Stand by Me") (!His experiences in New York) (!A popular movie of the time) (!Another song he performed)

Which musical genres does "Stand by Me" primarily blend? (R&B, soul, and gospel) (!Jazz, blues, and rock) (!Country and western) (!Pop and funk)

Who played the famous bassline in "Stand by Me"? (Lloyd Trotman) (!Jerry Leiber) (!Mike Stoller) (!Ben E. King himself)

In what year was "Stand by Me" originally released? (1961) (!1958) (!1964) (!1970)

Which film helped to revive the popularity of "Stand by Me" in the 1980s? (The film "Stand by Me") (!The film "Dirty Dancing") (!The film "Back to the Future") (!The film "Ghostbusters")

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

What is Ben E. King's real name? (Benjamin Earl Nelson) (!Benjamin Franklin King) (!Benjamin Elijah King) (!Benjamin Arthur King)

Before his solo career, which group was Ben E. King a part of? (The Drifters) (!The Platters) (!The Coasters) (!The Temptations)

Which of these songs is also a hit by Ben E. King? ("Spanish Harlem") (!"Unchained Melody") (!"My Girl") (!"Blueberry Hill")

How old was Ben E. King when "Stand by Me" was released? (23) (!18) (!30) (!27)

In what year was Ben E. King inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of The Drifters? (1988) (!1990) (!1985) (!1992)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What does the singer ask to stand by him in the song? (Mountains and the sea) (!The stars and the moon) (!The rivers and the forests) (!The sun and the rain)

Which phrase follows "When the night has come" in the song? (And the land is dark) (!And the moon is the only light we'll see) (!And the stars are shining bright) (!And the sky is filled with stars)

In "Stand by Me," what is the only light mentioned? (The moon) (!The stars) (!A candle) (!The sun)

Which word completes the line: "Just as long as you stand, stand by ___"? (Me) (!You) (!Us) (!Her)

What is the singer not afraid of as long as someone stands by him? (To fall) (!To cry) (!To fail) (!To lose)


Ben E. King "Stand by Me"
1961 Original release year
Lloyd Trotman Bass player
R&B, Soul, Gospel Musical genres of the song
"Lord Stand by Me" Inspirational spiritual

Open Tasks


  1. Create a playlist: Compile a playlist of songs from the 1960s that convey messages of friendship and support.
  2. Research other versions: Find and listen to three different cover versions of "Stand by Me." Note the differences and similarities.
  3. Draw a scene: Illustrate a scene inspired by the lyrics of "Stand by Me."


  1. Write a review: Write a music review of "Stand by Me," discussing its musical elements and cultural impact.
  2. Interview project: Interview someone who lived during the 1960s about their memories associated with "Stand by Me."
  3. Analyze the lyrics: Analyze the lyrics of "Stand by Me" and explain how they relate to themes of support and resilience.


  1. Compose a song: Write and compose a song inspired by "Stand by Me," focusing on its themes.
  2. Study the influence: Research and present on the influence of gospel music on popular songs in the 20th century.
  3. Create a documentary: Make a short documentary about the history and legacy of "Stand by Me."

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the evolution: Discuss how "Stand by Me" has evolved over the years and what this says about its universal appeal.
  2. Compare and contrast: Compare "Stand by Me" with another song from the same era. Focus on themes and musical styles.
  3. Role of music in society: Discuss the role of music in social and political changes, using "Stand by Me" as an example.
  4. Personal connection: Share a personal story or connection with the song "Stand by Me" and what it means to you.
  5. Musical analysis: Analyze the musical components of "Stand by Me" and how they contribute to the song's emotional impact.

OERs on the Topic


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