Ben E. King was a North Carolina native. But King — one of the all-time great soul singers, who died, Thursday, at the age of 76 — lived in Teaneck since the late ’60s, and worked with many Jersey musicians.
King, of course, is best known for his many ’50s and ’60s hits as a solo artist (“Stand By Me,” “Spanish Harlem”) and as a member of the Drifters (“There Goes My Baby,” “This Magic Moment,” “Save the Last Dance for Me”). But he did some recording in more recent years, too, and, in 1997, contributed a stellar version of Bruce Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” to the double-CD collection of Springsteen covers, One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, which benefited World Hunger Year. Co-producers Dennis Diken (of the Smithereens) and Dave Amels used a large band to create something akin to the Wall of Sound heard on some of King’s biggest hits.
His powerful voice was well suited for Springsteen’s intensely romantic ballad; check it out below.
King wrote the following about the session, in the album’s liner notes: “As I drove away from the session for ‘Sandy’ it occurred to me that I haven’t had to tackle a song as challenging as this since ‘Spanish Harlem,’ because of all those words and the movement. I found ‘Sandy’ to be ‘pleasantly busy.’ The verses seemed a bit crammed on the first few go-rounds, and the challenge was to see why it wasn’t working initially. I knew it could work because Bruce made it work. That was one of the fun things about it.”
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.