Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and more artists who recorded 'Stand by Me'

John Lennon is one of many artists who

John Lennon is one of many artists who have covered Ben E. King's megahit "Stand by Me." (Credit: Getty Images)

It's hard to believe, but Ben E. King's megahit "Stand by Me" was rejected by George Treadwell, manager of his old doo-wop group, The Drifters.

King wrote the song with Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber and recorded it with some leftover studio time. His solo career was launched with the single "Spanish Harlem," and "Stand by Me" followed, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard charts in the spring of 1961.

Twenty-five years later, the song re-entered the charts, thanks to the popularity of the Rob Reiner film "Stand by Me," which is based on the Stephen King novella "The Body." The song cracked the Top 10 in the fall of 1986.

"Stand by Me" was voted as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America and was put on the list of "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll" by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Just last year, the song was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame with its 2012 Towering Song Award.

King, who will perform "Stand by Me" when he plays the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore Friday, has the most popular version, but it has been recorded by hundreds of artists. Here are some of the most colorful ones.

 

JIMI HENDRIX

Hendrix gave the song a raw, bluesy swagger when he recorded it with Curtis Knight and the Squires in 1965.

 

STEPHEN KING

In a strange twist, the bestselling author recorded the song with Warren Zevon for a 1998 charity album, "Stranger Than Fiction."

 

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS

The animated children's group recorded a high-speed vocal version for the 2007 film "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

 

MICKEY GILLEY

In 1980, Gilley, cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, recorded a country version for the John Travolta film "Urban Cowboy" that hit No. 22 on the Billboard charts.

 

MUHAMMAD ALI

The heavyweight champ, under his birth name, Cassius Clay, recorded the song in 1963 for his vanity album, "I Am the Greatest!"

 

JOHN LENNON

Lennon covered "Stand by Me" for his 1975 album, "Rock 'n' Roll," just before retiring from the music business. The single hit No. 20 on the charts.

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