One-woman band Alexandra Ilieva did an amazing chilled cover of “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King, jamming out the memorable melody on a saxophone. The German musician starts out by playing the main line on bass guitar, then laying down a beat and piano part before finally bringing in the iconic vocal line on saxophone.
Much like the original song, Ilieva’s version has a relaxed, soulful vibe to it that warms the heart. Her cover was quite a hit on YouTube, with 23 million listeners tuning into the Thomann Music channel to hear the performance, as you can see below.
Ilieva is a natural entertainer and brings a charismatic spark to the performance, playing with a cheeky smile. She also brings a contemporary feel to the old-time hit, through her punchy electric bass playing and a spanky, tight drum beat. She adds some further interest to the main melody by at first keeping faithful to the original before developing the line into a tasteful solo.
The Berlin-based saxophonist also uploads on her own YouTube channel, Alexandra Ilieva, which has 150k subscribers. It’s not the first time Ilieva has reached a big audience with her covers, with her version of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” reaching 9.5 million viewers. In this performance, she performs the melody on saxophone atop a beautiful, minimalist arrangement, as you can hear below.
Ilieva is not alone in appreciating Ben E. King’s timeless hit “Stand by Me”. The song has been recorded more than 400 times by artists such as John Lennon, Otis Redding, the Cause, Tracy Chapman and even Muhammad Ali – who after all is no stranger to big hits!
“Stand by Me” was written by King, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and it certainly turned into a nice money maker for the trio, as it’s been estimated to have pulled in $22.8 million in royalties (as of 2012), making it the sixth highest earning song from its era. The song’s enduring success was helped along by its appearance in the soundtrack of the smash hit drama Stand by Me in 1986, and even resulted in the single re-entering the Billboard Top 10 and peaking at #9.