Stand By Me Singer Ben E King Dead At 76

American R&B singer Ben E King, best known for his 1961 hit Stand By Me, has died at age 76.

His agent said he died at his home in New Jersey on Thursday from a "coronary related illness", but did not give further details.

As a member of The Drifters, King co-wrote and sang lead on There Goes My Baby.

The band had a string of hits featuring King, including Save the Last Dance for Me and This Magic Moment.

The North Carolina native left The Drifters in 1960 following a dispute about his contract.

Born Benjamin Earl Nelson, he adopted his stage name and launched a successful solo career.

The 1961 ballad Spanish Harlem gave King his first solo hit.

But it was Stand By Me that cemented his fame.

The song, which has been covered a number of times, was chosen as one of the Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America.

It featured in the 1980s movie of the same name starring the late River Phoenix.

R&B singer and friend Gary US Bonds wrote on Facebook: "With an extremely heavy heart, I must say goodbye to one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls that I have had the privilege of knowing and calling my friend for more than 50 years - Mr Ben E King.

"I can tell you that Ben E will be missed more than words can say."