While his name may not be known by everyone, his hit "Stand By Me" is known all over the world. The man behind that mega-hit, Ben E. King has passed away at the age of 76.

King spent several years as lead vocalist for the Drifters from the late 50s until 1961 and was featured on such hits as "There Goes My Baby" and "Save the Last Dance for Me.' King often told the story about how he was fired from the group in 1960.

According to King, the group wasn't too happy with their pay arrangement and King was nominated to go to their producer to ask for more money. Kings reward for the brave task was to get fired and replaced by Rudy Lewis on lead vocals.

King wasn't without a gig for very long and had his very first solo hit  with a song written and produced by Phil Spector called "Spanish Harlem." It was just a few months later in '61 when King released "Stand By Me."  King went on to have a total of 7 Top 40 hits on the Billboard charts. The song "Stand by Me" became a hit all over again in 1986 when it was used as the theme song for the 1986 movie "Stand by Me" starring the late River Phoenix.

The cause of death is listed only as "natural causes."

Here's a great live performance of "Stand by Me" from 1987