Stand by Me (3:25)

Cover of Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon

From Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon and 33 other releases

Stand by Me” is a song by John Lennon, written by Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller/Ben E. King.

It’s from his album Rock ‘N’ Roll (1975).

According to the documentary History of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Ben E. King had no intention of recording the song himself when he wrote it.[1] 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. 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 went to number one on the R&B charts[2] and 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 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.[3]
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