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the coasters

The Coasters

l to r: carl gardner, leon hughes, bobby nunn and billy guy

Formed in February 1955, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

The Coasters comprised of:

Carl Gardner - lead (b. Carl Edward Gardner Snr., 29th April 1928, Tyler, Texas, U.S.A. d. 12th June 2011, Port St. Lucie hospice, Florida, U.S.A.)

Bobby Nunn - bass (b. Ulysses B. 'Bobby' Nunn Snr., 20th September 1925, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A. d. 5th November 1986, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.)

Billy Guy - baritone (b. Frank William Phillips, 20th June 1936, Itasca, Hill County, Texas, U.S.A. d. 5th November 2002, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)

Will 'Dub' Jones - bass (Will J. Jones, 14th May 1928, Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.A. d. 16th January 2000, Long Beach, California, U.S.A.)

Cornell Gunter - tenor (b. Cornelius E. Gunter, 14th November 1936, Coffeyville, Kansas, U.S.A. d. 26th February 1990, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.)

Leon Hughes - tenor (b. Thomas 'Leon' Hughes, 26th August 1932, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.)

and, later

Earl 'Speedo' Carroll - tenor (b. 2nd November 1937, New York City, New York, U.S.A.)

Obediah Donnell 'Obie' Jessie - (b. 28th December 1936, Lincoln Manor, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. d. 27th April 2020, U.S.A.)

Jimmy Norman - baritone

Ronnie Bright - bass

Alvin Morse - baritone

Primotivo Candelara - baritone

J.W. Lance - tenor

Eddie Whitfiled - bass


Carl Gardner Jnr. - tenor

The Coasters were one the first Doo Wop groups to cross the divide between R&B and Rock N' Roll with huge success.

The original members of the Coasters, were Carl Gardner, Billy Guy, Bobby Nunn and Leon Hughes.

The Robins

the robins (in 1954) l to r: bobby nunn, ty terrell, roy richard, billy richard and grady chapman

The Coasters were part formed by two members of the group the Robins (which included Carl Gardner and Bobby Nunn, along with Grady Chapman, Ty Terrell, Roy Richard, H.B. Barnum and Billy Richard, at various times).

Lieber & Stoller

lieber and stoller with a young elvis presley

Many of their hits were under the writing-and-production wing of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

As the Robins, the group recorded the song 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' b/w 'Just Like A Fool' in 1955.

In late 1956 the Robins/Coasters relocated to New York.

The RobinsThe Coasters

smokey joe's cafe - 1955 / yakety yak - 1958

Bobby Nunn and Leon Hughes were then replaced in the line-up by Cornell Gunter and Will 'Dub' Jones.

Signed to Atco Records, the Coasters released 'Down in Mexico' b/w 'Turtle Dovin' in 1956, which became a hit in 1957 and was followed by 'One Kiss Led To Another' b/w 'Brazila', and a double-sided record entitled, 'Searching' on the A side and 'Young Blood' on the flip.

The CoastersGreatest Hits

the coasters - 1958 / greatest hits - 1959

In 1958, the group released 'Yakety Yak' b/w 'Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart' (a side featuring King Curtis on tenor saxophone), which became the Coasters only national number 1 single.

Their 1959 follow up Atco single, 'Charlie Brown' b/w 'Three Cool Cats', reached number 2 on both charts, followed by further singles, including 'Along Came Jones', 'Poison Ivy' (number 1 for a month on the R&B chart), and 'Little Egypt (Ying-Yang)'.

One By OneCoast Along With

one by one - 1960 / coast along with the coasters - 1962

The Coasters then relocated to the Atlantic Records imprint by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and under the direction of Lester Sill (president of Screen Gems Corporation).

When Atlantic signed Leiber and Stoller as a production team, the group split into two different groups, one being the Coasters (moving to New York to record), and the Robins, who relocated back to the West Coast.

The Coasters recorded a series of successful sides in their career, including 'Love Potion Number 9' b/w 'D. W. Washburn', 'Poison Ivy' b/w 'I'm A Hog For You', 'Little Egypt (Ying Yang)' b/w 'Keep On Rolling' and 'Along Came Jones' b/w 'That Is Rock and Roll'.

The lead vocals of Carl Gardner and bass singing by Will 'Dub' Jones defined their sound through numerous personnel changes.

Throughout the Sixties, the Coasters recorded for several labels (apart from Atco), including the Date, Turntable, King and Polydor imprints

Later addition, Nathaniel 'Buster' Wilson, of the group, died in April 1980.

He was tragically shot and dismembered, his body dumped near the Hoover Dam, in a canyon.

Former manager Patrick Cavanaugh was convicted of the murder after Nate Wilson threatened to notify authorities of Cavanaugh's intent to buy furniture with stolen checks.

It Ain't Sanitary

it ain't sanitary - 1972

Other former members suffered equally tragic demises.

Saxophonist, King Curtis was stabbed to death by two junkies outside his apartment building in 1971.

Cornelius Gunter was shot while sitting behind the wheel of car at an intersection in Los Angeles.

In an attempt to escape, he sped away, but due to his severe injuries he drove into a brick wall.

Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby paid for his funeral expenses

Billy Guy, from the group, died on the 5th November 2002 in Texas.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, crediting the members of the 1958-era configuration. The Coasters also joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.

In late June, 2007 Carl Gardner's autobiography 'Carl Gardner: Yakety Yak I Fought Back - My Life with The Coasters' was published at Author House.

Carl Gardner passed away after suffering with congestive heart failure and vascular dementia in 2011, at a hospice in Florida.

Carl held the rights to the group's name having been a longtime campaigner for legislation that would prevent other groups from using the names of famous performers such as The Coasters, The Drifters, The Shirelles, The Platters and many others.

Carl's hard work was rewarded when Florida law makers passed such legislation in 2007.

Carl Gardner

The Coasters

Real Player


Rock 'N Roll With The Coasters (Atco Records 1958)

Keep Rockin' With The Coasters (Atco Records 1958)

The Coasters (Atco Records 1958)

The Coasters Greatest Hits (Atco Records 1959)

One By One (Atco Records 1960)

Coastin' Along (Atco Records 1961)

Coast Along With The Coasters (Atco Records 1962)

It Ain't Sanitary (Trip Records 1972)

On Broadway (King Records 1974)

Young Blood (Atlantic Records 1982)

The Coasters Featuring Cornell Gunther [live] (New Rose Records 1992)

Yakety Yak (Rhino Records 1993)

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