Soul Sunday: Ben E. King, Drifter to stardom!

Mornin’ Ginchers,

Welcome to Soul Sunday … as you all know Sunday’s are special to me and always have been since my days as a young man going to Sunday school, stopping at Aunt Kate’s on the way home to have a morning breakfast of Kiska and eggs all the way through my adult life as a Husband and Father.  We try to carry out my wife’s family tradition to this very day, the kids and grandkids join us for our Sunday, Italian dinner which always has pasta and sauce, meatballs, salad and Italian Bread but with a special side every week of Eggplant or Zucchini Parm, Veal Picatta with Bananna Peppers and Mushrooms, Chicken Milano, Stuffed hot peppers or Escarole and Beans.  It’s a time to get together with your loved ones, talk about what is going on in their lives and appreciate the bonding of Family.  Then after we are finished and all cleaned up it’s time for me to do my weekly “Heavenly Soul Show” on the radio which started out on WZUM, to WJAS to the Carolina Breeze and now my home on  Tonight I will be spotlighting an old friend who has a birthday this coming week … the great Ben E. King (Benjamin Earl Nelson).  Ben was born in Henderson, North Carolina in late September, 1938.  He is known for his singing and song writing however, I see him also as a great man and all around good guy.  Ben started his career singing in church choirs and while in High School formed a DooWop group called the Four B’s and they sometimes performed at the Apollo.  In 1958 he joined the Five Crowns and later that year was opening for the Drifters.  George Treadwell, Manager of the Drifters, was tired of the behavior of the group and fired them at the gig and hired the Five Crowns to be the new Drifters.  In 1959, Ben E. King recorded several Drifter classics as their new lead singer … “There Goes My Baby”, “Save The Last Dance For Me”, “This Magic Moment and “I Count The Tears” … this was known as the Ben E. King Era of the Drifters.  In 1960, Ben E. King broke away from the Drifters to start a solo career recording “Spanish Harlem” and his second solo single was co-written by Ben E. and Leiber & Stoller and has become a soul classic … “Stand By Me!”  I had the pleasure of working with Ben E. King a few times and each time I got to know the man a little better.  He was a kind and soft spoken gentleman but when it came to music he was a take no prisoners performer.  I remember one conert we backed Ben and early in the afternoon he called for a sit down with me and the band to talk through his songs, laying them out in order and talking through how he wanted the show to flow … a true professional.  A few years later we worked again with Ben E. King at the Montimurro’s Supper Club and Ben asked me to join him on stage to sing a duet ,,, a moment I will always remember and cherrish.  Tonight I will be spotlighting Ben E. King on my radio show … Johnny Angel’s Heavenly Soul Show on … live at 7:00 PM (EST) and the memories of working with the master will once again come alive.  The great Ben E. King … from a Drifter to National Stardom … what a man!  Till tomorrow, stay safe, stay healthy, help a neighbor when you can … and GOD Bless!


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