If you had to pick 25 songs to put in a time capsule to help explain what the 20th century was like — what music stirred the soul, jabbed the heart — Ben E. King’s 1961 hit “Stand By Me” would surely make that list. With a career that spanned from 1958, when he joined The Drifters, until he died on April 30, 2015, King helped build the foundation for popular music as we know it thanks to songs like “There Goes My Baby,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” and “This Magic Moment” — as well as his solo hits “Stand By Me” and the Phil Spector-produced “Spanish Harlem.”)

Voices like his are why we called it soul music to begin with.

Marc Bernardin is the Deputy Editor of Playboy.com.