Ben E. King 'Stand By Me' Singer Dies

5/1/2015 7:26 AM PDT

Ben E. King Dies -- 'Stand By Me' Singer Dead at 76

Breaking News

Soul singer Ben E. King -- most famous for his classic, "Stand By Me" -- died on Thursday ... according to his publicist.

King reportedly died at his home in New Jersey after suffering a heart ailment. He was 76 years old.

King's mega hit song made it to Billboard's top five in 1961 -- but "Stand By Me" returned to the charts in the '80s. It was also covered several times by other artists ... including John Lennon ... and made the charts 9 times.

He started his career with the Drifters in the '50s and had hits like "Save the Last Dance for Me" and "There Goes My Baby."

Ben E.'s passing comes just 2 weeks after the death of another soul legend -- Percy Sledge, who sang "When a Man Loves a Woman."