"Stand by Me
" is the title of a song performed by Ben E. King
and written by Ben E. King, Jerry Leiber
and Mike Stoller
. The song is inspired by a traditional Gospel song of the same name, originally composed by Charles A. Tindley in 1905, and recorded by numerous artists, including a 1955 version by The Staples Singers
. Leiber and Stoller gave it a more contemporary sound. Since its release, there have been many cover versions of the song, though none have achieved the fame of the original.
According to the documentary History of Rock 'n' Roll
, 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 all the studio musicians back in to record it. If King hadn't finished recording his other songs early, "Stand by Me" may never have been recorded.
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.
King's version 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 rerelease 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 reached #8 in the United World Chart. It also reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1987 after its re-release, mostly due to the jeans spot, originally reaching #27 on its first release.
"Stand by Me" was ranked number 121 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.
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.
John Lennon cover version
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 beginning of this version sounds like the beginning of Ringo Starr's "Only You (And You Alone)". The B-side of the single was "Move Over Ms. L", a rare and raucous track also covered by The Who drummer Keith Moon.
03/05/1975: 48-37-32-30-32-34-42 (UK)
15/03/1975: 78-67-52-36-30-24-20-20-49 (US)
Smokey Joe's Cafe
The song featured in the hit musical Smokey Joe's Cafe by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.
Other cover versions
Live performances, references, appearances in other media, etc.
- U2 performed the song frequently during that group's Joshua Tree and Zoo TV tours between 1987 and 1993, notably in one performance in Philadelphia where Bruce Springsteen joined the band on stage for the song. During U2's 1997-1998 PopMart Tour, the band often played snippets of "Stand by Me" after "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".
- The song has been performed live by punk rock group Green Day, who often used elements of the song during a medley with The Isley Brothers' "Shout" during their 2005 American Idiot tour.
- Jonny And The Cranbrookers covered it whilst supporting John Mayer at Royal Albert Hall
- In 2007, the former band The Wynchwood Brothers covered this song and played it at numerous charitable concerts, including a concert in aid of Cancer Research UK.
- Jim Byrnes performed an acoustic version of "Stand By Me" in one of the series finales of the television program "Highlander".
- In July, 2007 Incubus covered "Stand by Me" in Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Philadelphia in August 2007, Cleveland and New Hampshire, and in September 2007, Chula Vista.
- The song was used for a 1995 short film starring The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa that was released as a bonus feature with the Disney film starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Tom and Huck. This odd 3-minute short features Timon singing the song, while Pumbaa is constantly hit by objects every time Timon says "stand by me". The short can be found amongst the trailers and previews at the head of the original The Best of Roger Rabbit VHS tape released in 1996 (it's being used to advertise the Timon and Pumbaa television series).
- "Beautiful Girls", a 2007 single by Sean Kingston, samples the famous bass riff and chord progression as well as a melody that closely resembles parts of the violin solo from the original song.
- In 2001, Banyo Queen, a rap song by Philippine rapper Andrew E., sampled the song to the point that the tune uses the first line of the song ("When the night has come").
- The song is one of three mentioned by name in Eric Carmen's song "Make Me Lose Control".
- Bedouin Soundclash played a cover of "Stand by Me" as an intro to their track "When the Night Feels My Song" at a 2007 gig in Sheffield
- "Stand by Me", which also included a part from Beautiful Girls, was used in the BBC's 'The Choir - Boys Don't Sing' as the choir's final song when they performed in the Royal Albert Hall, conducted by choirmaster Gareth Malone.
- Quoted in the introduction to the third part of Stephen King's post-apocalyptic novel The Stand. King covered the song on Stranger Than Fiction (compilation album).
- Performed by David Archuleta on American Idol, which also featured a lyric from "Beautiful Girls."
- The song appears on the game Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol.
- Jason Mraz did a live cover to this song.
- Russian band "Line-up" regularly performs the song on the concerts.
- The German band "Skill" plays the song on one of their gigs.
- "The Gaslight Anthem" regularly perform the song live, usually leading into their own song "I'da Called You Woody, Joe".