He was a master of theatrical soul performance. King knew how to sell a song through subtle emotion and elegant nuance, slowly building the drama of the story to peak just short of melodrama. With the collaboration of master producers Leiber and Stoller, each record became a mini play, often times reminiscent of a tragic opera. Perhaps it was the Spanish musical elements that gave that feel of "Carmen" (most likely that was on purpose). A little Bizet for the pop audience. Whatever it was, it worked.
The late 50s & early 60s was King's most celebrated and best-remembered era, but he continued to record regularly throughout the 1970s even delivering some very interesting experiments in the blending of psych-soul and rock. Sometimes that era was a little hit and miss, but he put out a lot of overlooked gems during that period.
My selection of the day is a great example. Ben E King does Elton John. I personally far prefer this to the original and I think he brings a great deal to the song, perhaps even bringing a deeper meaning.
With the passing of Ben E King (and Don Covay recently), we've seen the end of the Soul Clan and maybe a more official ending of an era. Of course, there are a good number of people like me who work every day to keep the flame burning, making sure the soul music pilot light never goes out. So, Mr. King rest assured that we will never let you be forgotten.
So long old friend.