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From the Land of Band Box Records

From Coast To Coast – The Coasters

The Robins Meet Jerry and Mike

Unlike their record label stable mates, the Drifters, the Coasters weren’t formed around dynamic lead vocalists.  The Coasters would find their fortunes through the imaginative composing pens of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller – delivering some of the most spirited and novel R&B/Rock ‘n Roll tunes that ever graced the world’s popularity charts.

Their songs easily ‘crossed over’ from solely R&B to the pop charts – and often did as well or even better with the group realizing enormous popularity over diverse audiences.

Image result for elvis with leiber and stoller

Leiber and Stoller with The King

Things got started for the Coasters back in the spring of 1954 when they were still “The Robins and they would team up with the young Leiber and Stoller out in southern California releasing a series of songs on Mike and Jerry’s new “Spark” record label beginning with “Riot In Cell Block #9” backed with “Wrap it Up”.  The “Riot” received local radio air play attention but would not break out nationally.

First Time Out with Jerry & Mike

Early Version of the RobinsIt was followed by four more Robins’ singles – all without success – and then along came “Smokey’s Joe’s Cafe” in late summer of 1955.  The song would make it to number 79 on the Billboard Pop charts.  That achievement coupled with the success of two earlier Leiber/Stoller tracks – one by “Big Mama” Willie Mae Thornton in 1953 – and another by a young California vocal trio – “The Cheers” were enough to garner the attention of East Coast Atlantic Records to offer Mike and Jerry and contract which came with the requirement to move to the East Coast.

The Cheers

Thornton’s “Hound Dog” had gone to number 1 on the national R&B Charts where it remained for seven straight weeks in 1953.  The Cheers took “Black Slacks” into the Hot 100 Top Ten – peaking at number 6 in the fall of 1955.  (Oddly, “Hound Dog” would be Big Mama Thornton’s only appearance on any popularity chart and, she only recorded about a dozen singles during her career.)

Image result for willie mae thornton

Leiber and Stoller were only 20 years old when they penned these songs.  But the two boys had plenty of practice under their belts as both composers and producers having released more than 2 dozen singles on their Spark label by a host of obscure artists – with the Robins being their ‘premier’ group.

(Visit my “Leiber and Stoller” Page Here)

Well, only two Robins were willing to leave the sunny environs of Los Angeles – and that would be Carl Gardner and Bobby Nunn.  By the time the group headed out to Atlantic they would be joined by Billy Guy, Leon Hughes and guitar player Adolph Jacobs.  They had been required to take a new name – and so inspired by their eventual trek from one coast to the other coast – they were now “The Coasters”.

West to East Coasting – The Originals – Leon Hughes, Carl Gardner, Bobby Nunn, Billy Guy and Adolph Jacobs

Coasters with Others

  • Carl Gardner: The Robins
  • Billy Guy: Bip and Bop – The Odds N’ Ends
  • Bobby Nunn: A-Sharp Trio – The Robins – Splendor
  • Cornel/ll Gunter: The Chimes – The Flairs – The Hunters – The Platters – The Hollywood Blue Jays
  • Adolph Jacobs: The Medallions – Adolph Jacobs Band
  • Will Jones: The Cadets – The Crescendos – Cora and Dub
  • Young Jesse – The Flairs – The Debonairs – The Hollywood Blue Jays

Beyond the Coasters

Unlike the ‘big two’ from the Drifters: Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King, or the other two dynamic Drifter leads – Rudy Lewis and Johnny Moore – The Coasters did not spawn any stand-out lead vocalists – With the Coasters it was always the group – the antics – and the novelty songs.

Several musicians would come and go with the Coasters – not nearly as many as the 60-plus Drifters, but close to 20 over time.  Several of these are displayed below – A few interesting additions would include the arrival of Earl “Speedo” Carroll who had provided lead vocals for the Cadillacs, and bass singer Ronnie Bright.

Bright would also sing with the R&B groups the Valentines and the Cadillacs and notoriously provide the bass part on Johnny Cymbal’s “Mr. Bass Man” – a number 16 Hot 100 hit for Cymbal in 1963. (Cymbal’s birth name was John Hendry Blair – a native of Scotland.  He would also record as “Derek” recording two songs which were a bit controversial for the times – “Cinnamon” (number 11) and “Back Door Man” (number 59) both in 1969).

Coastin Coasters: Top: Young Jesse – Thomas “Curley” Palmer – Sonny Forriest – Earl “Speedo” Carroll – Bottom: Ronnie Bright – Will Jones – Jimmy Norman Scott – Cornell Gunter

The Coasters would inspire a handful of other R&B acts to go ‘novelty’ – the Cadillacs, the Cadets/Jacks, the Olympics and the Marathons being thew most premier among them (an upcoming Post I think).

The last original Coaster as of November, 2019 is Leon Hughes.  An often used saxophone player for the Coasters, King Curtis – died tragically  when he was stabbed to death in 1971.  The popular Cornell Gunter was in Las Vegas sitting in a parked car and was shot to death in 1990.  Another more obscure Coaster – Nate Wilson was shot and killed in 1980.

Four members of the Coasters entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Billy Guy, Carl Gardner, Will Jones and Cornell Gunter.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – 1987 Inductees

Two informative books have been written about the group: “Yakety Yak I Fought Back – My Life with The Drifters” by Carl Gardner and “The Coasters” by Bill Millar who also wrote “The Drifters”.

Yakety Yak I Fought BackImage result for the coasters bill millar

Much like so many Doo Wop and R&B Groups – many different ‘off-shoot’ Coaster groups would appear through the years.

Coasters: Late 1960’s

Coasters: 1974

Cornell Gunter´s Coasters.

Coasters: 1976

The "Original" Cornell Gunter Coasters of 2007.

Coasters: 1977

Bobby Nunn's Coasters in 1977 with Billy Richards Jr, Bobby Sheen, Randy Jones, and Bobby Nunn (from the back cover of "Coastin' " LP).

Coasters: 1982

Bobby Nunn´s Coasters.

Coasters: 1985

Coasters 1991

Billy Richards´ Coasters of 2003.

Coasters 2000’s

Grady Chapman, Jerome Evans, and Bobby Sheen of "The Fabulous Coasters" in Hobbs, New Mexico, August 2000,

The Coasters Discography

Atco Artists with The Coasters – January, 1958

Coasters Singles Discography

45 – Atco 6064 – Down In Mexico b/w Turtle Dovin’ – Double Side Hit – Charted Number 8 (both sides) R&B Charts – Released February, 1956

Lead Vocals: Carl Gardner both Tracks

45 – Atco 6073 – One Kiss Led To Another b/w – “A” Side Charted Number 11 R&B Charts – Number 73 Hot 100 Charts – Released July, 1956

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner – “B” Side: Billy Guy, Bobby Nunn and Carl Gardener

45 – Atco 6087 – Searchin’ b/w Young Blood – Double Sided Hit – Charted Numbers 1 for 12 weeks “A” Side R&B – Number 1 for one week “B” Side R&B – Charted Number 3 “A” Side Hot 100 & Number 8 “B” Side Hot 100

Lead Vocals:  Carl Gardner on Searchin and Billy Guy on Young Blood

45 – Atco 6098 – Idol With the Golden Head b/w (When She Wants Good Lovin’) My Baby Comes To Me – “A” Side Charted Number 64 Hot 100 Charts – Released August, 1957

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner  “B” Side Billy Guy

45 – Atco 6104 – Sweet Georgia Brown/What Is The Secret of Your Success? – Did Not Chart – Released November, 1957

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner with Billy Guy – “B” Side Billy Guy

 

45 – Atco 6111 – Dance! b/w Golly Gee – Did Not Chart – Released February, 1958

Lead Vocals Not Known by Me

45 – Atco 6116 – Yakety Yak b/w Zing Went the Strings To My Heart – “A” Side Charted Number 1 R&B for 7 Weeks – Number 1 Hot 100 for 1 Week – Released April, 1958

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardener – “B” Side Will Jones

45 – Atco 6126 – The Shadow Knows b/w Sorry But I’m Gonna Have To Pass – Did Not Chart – Released August, 1958

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner – “B” Side Will Jones

45 EP – Atco 4501 – Rock and Roll with The Coasters – Released 1958

(Carl Gardner – Billy Guy – Bobby Nunn – Leon Hughes and Adolph Jacobs)

45 EP – Atco 4503 – Keep Rockin’ With The Coasters – Released 1958

(Carl Gardner – Billy Guy – Bobby Nunn – Leon Hughes and Adolph Jacobs)

45 – Atco 6132 – Charlie Brown b/w Three Cool Cats – “A” Side Charted Number 2 R&B Charts – Number 2 Hot 100 Charts – Released January, 1959

Lead Vocals: “A” Side The Coasters as a Group – “B” Side Carl Gardner

45 Special Stereo Edition – Atco 6132 – Charlie Brown b/w Three Cool Cats – Released January, 1959

45 – Atco 6141 – Along Came Jones b/w That Is Rock and Roll – “A” Side Charted Number 14 R&B Charts – Number 9 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1959

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner – “B” Side Group in Unison

45 – Atco 6146 – Poison Ivy b/w I’m A Hog For You – “A” Side Charted Number 1 R&B for 4 Weeks – Number 7 Hot 100 – “B” Side Charted #36 Hot 100 Charts – Released August, 1959

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner and Billy Guy – “B” Side Group in Unison

45 – Atco 6153 – Run Red Run b/w What About Us – “A” Side Charted Number 29 R&B Charts – Number 36 Hot 100 – “B” Side Charted Number 17 R&B Charts – Number 47 Hot 100 – Released November, 1959

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Guy – “B” Side Group in Unison

45 EP – Atco 4506 – The Coasters – Released 1959

45 EP – Atco 4507 – The Coasters’ Top Hits – Released 1959

45 – Atco 6163 – Besame Mucho Part I b/w Besame Mucho Part II – “A” Side Charted Number 70 R&B Charts – Released March, 1960

Lead Vocals: Group In Unison

45 – Atco 6168 – Wake Me, Shake Me b/w Stewball – “A” Side Charted Number 14 R&B Charts – Number 51 Hot 100 Charts – Released May, 1960

Lead Vocals: Billy Gardner Both Sides

45 – 6178 – Shoppin’ For Clothes b/w The Snake and The Book Worm – “A” Side Charted Number 83 Hot 100 Charts – Released September, 1960

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Gardner and Will Jones – “B” Side Carl Gardner

Reissue Second Title Version: “A” Side: Clothes Line (Wrap It Up)

45 – Atco 6186 – Wait a Minute b/w Thumbin’ A Ride – “A” Side Charted Number 37 Hot 100 Charts – Released January, 1961

Lead Vocals: Billy Gardner Both Sides

45 – Atco 6192 – Little Egypt (Ying Yang) b/w Keep On Rolling – “A” Side Charted Number 16 R&B Charts – Number 23 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1961

Lead Vocals: Billy Guy

45 – Atco 6204 – Girls Girls Girls Part 1 b/w Girls Girls Girls Part 2 – “B” Side Charted Number 96 Hot 100 Charts – Released July, 1961

Lead Vocals: Billy Guy both Sides

45 – Atco 6210 – Bad Blood b/w (Ain’t That) Just Like Me – Did Not Chart – Release October, 1961

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner – “B” Side Billy Guy

45 – Atco 6219 – Teach Me How To Shimmy b/w Ridin’ Hood – “B” Side Charted Number 133 Bubbling Under Charts – Released March, 1962

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Gardner – “B” Side Group in Unison

45 – Atco 6234 – The Climb (Vocal) b/w The Climb (Instrumental) – “A” Side Charted Number 137 Bubbling Under Charts – Released September, 1962

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Will Jones

45 – Atco 6251 – The P.T.A. b/w Bull Tick Waltz – “A” Side Charted Number 126 Bubbling Under Charts – Released February, 1963

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Will Jones

45 – Atco 6287 – T’Ain’t Nothin’ To Me b/w Speedo’s Back In Town – “A” Side Charted Number 64 Hot 100 Charts – Number 20 R&B Charts – Released February, 1964

(This would be the final Coaster Atco charting single)

Lead Vocals: Bill Guy Both Sides

45 – Atco 6300 – Bad Detective b/w Lovey Dovey – Did Not Chart – Released May, 1964

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Guy – “B” Side Earl “Speedo” Carroll

45 – Atco 6321 – Wild One b/w I Must Be Dreaming – Did Not Chart – Released October, 1964

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Guy – “B” Side Billy Guy and Cornell Gunter

45 – Atco 6341 – Lady Like b/w Hongry – Did Not Chart – Released February, 1965

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Group In Unison – “B” Side Billy Guy

45 – Atco 6356 – Money Honey b/w Let’s Go Get Stoned – Did Not Chart – Released May, 1965

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Group in Unison – “B” Side Billy Guy

45 – Atco 6379 – Bell Bottom Slacks and A Chinese Kimono (She’s My Little Speed-O) b/w Crazy Baby – Did Not Chart – Released October, 1965

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner – “B” Side Billy Guy

45 – Atco 6407 – She’s A Yum Yum b/w Saturday Night Fish Fry – Did Not Chart – Released March, 1966

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Group in Unison – “B” Side Billy Guy

45 – Date 1552 – Soul Pad b/w Down Home Girl – Did Not Chart – Released April, 1967

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Guy and Earl “Speedo” Carroll ‘ “B” Side Billy Guy

45 – Date 1607 – She Can b/w Everybody’s Woman – Did Not Chart – Released June, 1967

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Group in Unison – “B” Side Earl “Speedo” Carroll

45 – Date 1617 – D.W. Washburn b/w Everybody’s Woman – Did Not Chart – Released July, 1968

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Guy and Cornell Gunter – “B” Side Earl “Speedo” Carroll

45 – Turntable 504 – Act Right b/w The World Is Changing – Did Not Chart – Released 1969

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Guy – “B” Side Earl “Speedo” Carroll

45 – King 6385 – Love Potion Number Nine b/w D.W. Washburn – “A” Side Charted Number 76 Hot 100 Charts – Released 1969

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Earl “Speedo” Carroll – “B” Side Billy Guy and Carl Gardner

45 – King 6389 – Cool Jerk b/w Talkin’ About A Woman – Did Not Chart – Released April, 1972

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Carl Gardner – “B” Side Group in Unison

45 – King 6404 – Soul Pad b/w D.W. Washburn – Did Not Chart – Released 1972

Lead Vocals: “A” Side Billy Guy and Earl “Speedo” Carroll – “B” Side Billy Guy and Cornell Gunter

Coasters Individual Discographies

Very few of these recordings reached the national charts

Earl “Speedo” Carroll Discography

Born 1937 in New York City, New York

45 – Josie 829 – Buzz-Buzz-Buzz b/w Yea Yea Baby – Released November, 1957

(as with “The Original Coasters)

Sonny Forriest Discography

Born Elbert McKinley Forriest 1934 in Pendleton, North Carolina – name sometimes spelled “Forrest”

45 – Atco 6157 – Diddy Bop b/w Knockdown – Released January, 1960

45 – Verve 10306 – Now That I’m Lonely b/w Travelin’ – Released October, 1963

45 – Decca 31888 – I Got A Woman b/w Tuff Pickin’ – Released December, 1965

45 – Escort 107 – Don’t Mess With My Woman b/w Train – Release Date Unknown

Carl Gardner Discography

Born 1928 Carl Edward Gardner – Tyler, Texas

45 – Wicked 8103 – A Hush Don’t Talk About It b/w The World Keeps On Turning – Released 1976 (by Carl Gardner and the Coasters)

Cornell Gunter Discography

Born Cornell Gunter sometimes listed as “Cornel” – Coffeyville, Kansas

45 – Loma 701 – True Love b/w Peek, Peek-A-Boo – Released September, 1955

45 – Loma 703 – (Pretty Baby) I’m So Used To You Now b/w You Broke My Heart – Released 1956

45 – Loma 704 – Muchacha, Muchacha b/w Keep Me Alive – Released 1956 (with the Ermines)

45 – Loma 705 – One Thing For Me b/w I’m Sad – Released 1956

45 – ABC-Paramount 9698 – In Self Defense b/w She Loves To Rock – Released April, 1956 (by Cornel Gunter & The Flairs)

45 – Eagle 301 – Baby Come Home b/w I Want You Madly – Released September, 1957

45 – Dot 15654 – You Send Me b/w Call Me A Fool – Released September, 1957

45 – Warner Bros. 5266 – Lift Me Up Angel b/w Rope Or Sand – Released March, 1962

45 – Warner Bros. 5292 – In A Dream Of Love b/w It Ain’t No Use – Released July, 1962

45 – Challenge 59281 – Wishful Thinking (with The Cornells) b/w If I Had The Key To Your Heart – Released March, 1965

45 – Together 101 – Love In My Heart b/w Down In Mexico – Released 1976

Billy Guy Discography

Born Frank Phillips Jr. – Itasca, Texas

45 – ABC-Paramount 10320 – Here I Am b/w As Quiet As It’s Kept – Released April, 1962

45 – ABC-Paramount 10397 – (She’s A) Humdinger b/w It Doesn’t Take Much – Released January, 1963

45 – Double L 719 – Whip It On Me Baby b/w Women – Released July, 1963

45 – Verve 10485 – I’m Sorry About That b/w If You Want To Get Ahead, Shake A Leg – Released March, 1967

45 – Sew City 109 – Lookin’ Like A Nut b/w Here ‘Tis -(with “The Odds N’ Ends”) –  Released August, 1968

45 – GuyJim 587 – I’m Sorry ‘Bout That b/w Lookin’ Like A Nut Nut – (with The New Way) – Released July, 1967

The “GuyJim” label was a partnership of Guy’s along with long-time Cadillac group member James Ralph “JR” Bailey

45 – All Platinum 2320 – Let Me Go, Ghetto b/w If I Had My Time To Live Over – Released September, 1970

45 – All Platinum 2323 – Hug One Another b/w The Ugly – Released February, 1971

45 – Bell 124 – Shake A Leg b/w All I Need Is Love – (Billy Guy recording as “Happy”) – Released August, 1971

45 – Sal/Wa 1001 – You Move Me b/w Take It Easy Greazy – Released 1975

(Listed at with Billy Guy and The Coasters but in fact was only Billy Guy working with others – An attempt to cash in on the former success of the Coasters)

45 – Black Circle 102 – Watergate (Put Some Funk On Cause The Money’s Been (Long Gone) b/w Hockey Puck – released 1975

(Same note applies for this release as the “Sal/Wa” release above)

45 – Sniff 395 – Put Your Words To It b/w You Move Me – Release Date Unknown

45 – Chalco 5002 – Foxey Baby b/w She’s My Girl – Release Date Unknown

LP – Sundaynight 100 – Don Bombard Presents Pittsburgh’s Hall of Fame Vol. 1 – 1978

(Various Artists with “Whip It On Me” by Billy Guy)

Adolph Jacobs Discography

Born 1939 Pineland, Texas

45 – Class 253 – Move Around Easy b/w Walkin’ And Whistlin’ – Released 1959

45 – Romark 101 – Gettin’ Down With The Game b/w Do It – Released 1971

Young Jesse Discography

Born Obediah Donnell Jessie in 1936 Lincoln Manor, Texas  – Jesse was only with the Coasters for about a year – but did appear on significant songs “Searchin'” and “Young Blood” – Presented here just a few recordings from around his time with The Coasters.

45 – Atco 6101 – Make Believe b/w Shuffle In The Gravel – Released October, 1957

45 – Atlantic 45-2003 – That’s Enough For Me b/w Margie – Released October, 1958

45 – Capitol 4318 – Lulu-Belle b/w The Wrong Door – Released December, 1959

Jimmy Norman (Scott) Discography

Born James Norman Scott 1937 in Nashville, Tennessee – Norman was only with the Coasters for a very brief time in 1969 initially as a producer and then began touring with them – Only presenting his two charting singles here – Norman’s main musical calling was in the world of Jazz

45 – Little Star 113 – I Don’t Love You No More b/w Tell Her For Me – “A” Side Charted Number 21 R&B Charts – Number 47 Hot 100 Charts – Released April, 1962

45 – Samar 112 – You’re Only Hurting Yourself b/w That Little Old Groovemaker – “A” Side charted Number 35 R&B Charts – Released August, 1966

Bobby Nunn Discography

Born Ulysses B. Nunn Sr. 1925 – Birmingham, Alabama

78 – Blue 105 – Bring Your Lovin’ Back To Me b/w I Got A Country Gal – Released 1949

78 – Dootone 302 – Anticipating Blues – “B” Side by Pete Johnson and His All Stars – Released December, 1951

45 – Federal 12100 – Saturday Night Daddy (with Little Esther) – “B” Side by Little Esther – Released October, 1952

78 – Federal 12122 – You Took My Love Too Fast – “A” Side by Little Esther – Released March, 1953

78 – Recorded In Hollywood 244 – Christmas Bells (“B” Side by Que Martin) – Released 1953

45 – Tishman 714 – Sixty Minute Man Is Back b/w Been Thinking It Over – Released 1963

 

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