‘Stand by me’ co-writer on song’s significance at royal wedding

Songwriter Mike Stoller, who is the only living member of the trio that co-wrote “Stand by me”, feels sad that neither Jerry Leiber nor Ben E. King (late co-writers) were around to experience the appreciation for the song at the royal wedding of former actress Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.

Stoller was 3,000 miles away from London, where the track was sung by the London-based Karen Gibson-led Kingdom Choir at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel, reports variety.com.

The May 19 performance of the 1961 classic was the only pop song to be part of the Royal procession, reportedly a personal request from Markle after Prince Charles suggested the gospel troupe be invited.

On the partnership that resulted in “Stand by me”, Stoller said: “Jerry and I were writing blues songs almost exclusively for black performers at the time. The song has resonance in the African-American community not just because of its gospel origin, but it was also involved with the civil rights movement.

“That’s something all the three of us were very proud of. I’m just sad neither Jerry nor Ben were around to experience the tremendous appreciation for the song.”

Stoller, 85, is still working, overseeing a preview of his jukebox musical “Smokey Joe’s cafe”.

Mirroring the mix of its creators – Stoller and Jerry Leiber were a pair of Jewish songwriters, while Ben E. King was an African-American vocalist and a former member of the band Drifters – “Stand by me” represented a historic acknowledgement of its origins with the introduction of the bi-racial Markle into the royal family.


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