Ben E King
Ben E King was originally in The Drifters but went solo in 1960Getty

Legendary soul singer Ben E King has died, his publicist has confirmed.

The entertainer, best known for the classic song Stand By Me, died at his home in New Jersey on 30 April from a "coronary related illness". He was aged 76.

Born Benjamin Earl Nelson, King found in fame 1950s with The Drifters, singing on hits including There Goes My Baby and Save The Last Dance For Me before going solo in 1960. After striking out on his own, he broke into US top five with his 1961 hit Stand by Me.

The song has been charted nine times on the US Billboard 100 thanks to covers by artists like John Lennon and Spyder Turner. After it featured on the soundtrack of the 1986 American coming-of-age comedy-drama adventure film of the same name, starring River Phoenix and Corey Feldman, the song enjoyed a three-week spell at number one in the UK.

In the later part of his career, King featured in an advert for Levi's and was active in his charitable organisation, The Ben E King Stand By Me Foundation. In 2013 he embarked on a UK tour.

Paying tribute to King, fellow musician Gary US Bonds described him as "one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls".

"With an extremely heavy heart, I must say goodbye to one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls that I have had the privilege of knowing and calling my friend for more than 50 years – Mr. Ben E King," he wrote in a touching Facebook post.

"Speaking for myself, my family & my Roadhouse Rockers family, I can tell you that Ben E will be missed more than words can say. Our sincere condolences go out to Betty and the entire family.

"Thank you Ben E for your friendship and the wonderful legacy you leave behind."

King is survived by his wife Betty and his three children.