Prince Royce Reacts to 'Stand By Me' Singer Ben E. King's Death: 'I Feel Blessed to Have Known Him'
In a statement to Billboard, Royce said, "I am shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of such a legend, a kind, gentle giant of the music industry. I feel blessed to have known, worked and performed with him -- he made me feel like a friend. Ben will always be in my heart as my mentor and my role model and someone who inspired me and opened the door for me in my career. May he rest in peace."
Bronx-born Royce, 25, shot to fame in January 2010 after releasing a bachata cover of King's timeless 1961 classic. With the help of producer Sergio George, the Dominican American's take inspired a new sound that fused the tropical genre from the Dominican Republic with sounds of the '60s era. Royce's then-labelmate at George's Top Stop Music, Leslie Grace, recorded a similar bachata version of The Shirelles' 1960 hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"
King and Royce performed "Stand By Me" together at the 11th Annual Latin Grammy Awards from Las Vegas in Nov. 2010, Royce's breakout year.
Royce also posted a heartfelt message on his Facebook:
Royce's rep said that King and Royce kept in touch since performing and last spoke in February of this year.
Over his career, King had 21 songs crack the Billboard Hot 100, most notably the iconic 1961 single "Stand By Me." The U.S. Library of Congress added the classic to the National Recording Registry earlier this year, saying, "It was King's incandescent vocal that made it a classic."
Here is a video of their joint performance at the Latin Grammys: