Ben E. King (1938-2015) and Jack Ely (1943-2015)

The last week has seen the deaths of singers Ben E. King who used to sing with The Drifters and died at the age of 76, and Jack Ely, lead singer of The Kingsmen, who died at the age of 71.

King and The Drifters had a string of hits and one that I particularly liked was Spanish Harlem that showcased his smooth voice.

The Kingsmen were mainly known for one song Louie Louie, whose lyrics were famously so hard to make out that legends grew that they were obscene when they were not.

Growing up in Sri Lanka without TV I heard these songs only on the radio and had no idea what the singers looked like except for a few famous bands like The Beatles or Elvis Presley. I somehow had the impression that The Kingsmen was a black group and only discovered my mistake when I looked at the above video yesterday.

I had a similar misapprehension with the group that sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight, discovering that they were white only after Hank Medress, the lead singer of The Tokens, died in 2007.


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