The Coasters

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer

Category: Performer

Inducted in: 1987

Inducted by: Lester Sill

Nominated in: 1986   1987

First Eligible: 1986 Ceremony

Inducted Members: Carl Gardner, Cornell Gunter, Billy "Bip" Guy and Will "Dub" Jones

Snubbed Members: Albert "Sonny" Forriest, Leon Hughes, Adolph Jacobs, Bobby Nunn

Inducted into Rock Hall Revisited in 1989 (ranked #162) .

Essential Songs (?)WikipediaAmazon MP3YouTube
Searchin' (1957)
Yakety Yak (1958)
Charlie Brown (1959)
Poison Ivy (1959)

The Coasters @ Wikipedia

The Coasters Videos


8 comments so far (post your own)

R.I.P. Carl Gardner

Hope that you are at peace now.

Posted by Steve Z on Tuesday, 06.14.11 @ 09:01am

The Inductees

The Coasters

Carl Gardner
Cornell Gunter
Billy Guy
Will "Dub" Jones

Not Inducted

Bobby Nunn
Leon Hughes

The Coasters never charted on the albums chart, only the singles chart.

The First R&RHoF Screw-Up Started with the First Group Inducted - Where's Bobby Nunn and Leon Hughes of the Coasters?

Here's some trivia everyone on this board probably knows - the first group inducted into the R&RHoF were the Coasters in 1987.

Now, by "screw-up", I'm not talking about snubbing a group over and over and over and over. If that were a screw-up, there would be a few hundred screw-ups by the second year, and the R&RHoF would never recover.

No, by "screw-up", I mean they either failed to induct all the important members of a group, they forgot to induct a group along with its lead singer, or they inducted someone in one category when it was far more appropriate to induct them in another category.

Now, of the Coasters' songs, how many people here feel "Searchin'" (#3 in 1957) and "Young Blood" (#8 in 1957) were important songs? I mean, yes, we're only talking about two songs, and one could say we're only talking about one single, since both songs were on each side of what was called a "double A side" single. Well, consider this: after the fragmentation of the Robins, when Bobby Nunn and Leon Hughes joined Carl Gardner and Billy Guy to form the Coasters, the Coasters recorded a number of songs, mostly if not entirely Leiber and Stoller songs. None of them really broke through until "Searchin'" and "Young Blood" both went top ten. "Searchin'" and "Young Blood" put the Coasters on the map. It's from those two songs that all the other songs sprung. And Nunn and Hughes were on those two songs, as well as all their hits prior.

And Nunn and Hughes left the group after those two songs, replaced by Cornell Gunter and Will "Dub" Jones joined the group. Gardner, Guy, Gunter and Jones had top ten hits with "Yakety Yak", "Charlie Brown", "Along Came Jones" and "Poison Ivy". Well, I'm not sure if Jones was with the group for "Yakety Yak", but he was definitely there by "Charlie Brown."

Gardner, Guy, Gunter and Jones were the only ones inducted. Nunn and Hughes were not.

This wouldn't happen nowadays. Nowadays, every member present during important recordings is inducted. Well, unless the group has 100 members like Parliament-Funkadelic did, which then they turn it over to an expert to help them sort out who should be inducted (16 members were chosen to be inducted).

This issue becomes important when one considers that the only one of the six of these guys who is still alive is Leon Hughes. The rest are all dead.

So when you talk of the Miracles or the Midnighters or the Crickets or the Comets or Bruce Johnston or Gram Parsons or Bob Welch or Ronnie James Dio or whoever else you want to talk about, please also remember Bobby Nunn and Leon Hughes of the Coasters.

They were unfortunately the first.

Posted by Charles Crossley Jr on Thursday, 06.23.11 @ 21:46pm

This is a case where an addendum is the right option, unlike The Miracles.

Bobby Nunn and Leon Hughes should be added on to The Coasters inductees. They were full members of the group and performed on major hits!

Posted by Roy on Monday, 08.15.11 @ 07:30am

R.I.P. Carl Gardner, Bobby Nunn, Billy Guy, Will "Dub" Jones, Cornell Gunter, and anyone else connected with The Coasters who has passed away. Their music has brought lots of joy and laughter to a dark world.

The first time I ever heard Yakety Yak on the radio, I was at least four or five years old. Needless to say, I was floored. I later heard Poison Ivy, Charlie Brown, and some of their other hits, and knew that this was a group worth my time. I just recently acquired a fantastic 2-disc set from Rhino called 50 Coastin' Classics. All my happy memories of first hearing the Coasters' popular hits came rushing back. Hearing some of their lesser known tunes like Three Cool Cats and Hey Sexy was refreshing. I can't recommend it enough to fans of The Coasters or '50s music in general.

Carl Gardner is one of the most underrated vocalists. He had a rich, deep voice comparable to Nat King Cole's. So what if The Coasters didn't write their own songs? Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller satisfied that department excellently..

What made The Original Coasters so brilliant was how each member's voice had a unique sound and how those voices blended together. You can't judge a vocal group by the same criteria as a singer-songwriter. The Coasters were a top-notch vocal group, and that's what truly matters. Personally, I think a lot of singer-songwriters are terrible singers and even worse musicians (Neil Young immediately comes to mind). There's some terrific singer-songwriters out there, but simultaneously writing and singing your own material doesn't automatically make you great.

Posted by Zach on Monday, 04.16.12 @ 22:26pm

Nothing better than the Coasters.... They are a true musical vocal singing band! They sang it as it is.. Got to love them!

Posted by Happy on Monday, 04.16.12 @ 23:50pm

From 19f6 to 1961, The Coasters had hits like "Yakety Yak" and "Poison Ivy" which were performed with wit and wonderful harmonies, but The Coasters were also one of the few rock groups to straddle the lines of music and comedy as thier funny lyrics and on stage antics resembled a group of clowns. the group's songs were no novelties, but composed by the remarkable song writring team of Leiber and Stoller. With these elements, The Coasters thinned the line between rock and roll and R&B and the songs they sang made points about American culture for people willing to dig a little deeper. Even through all the band members have pasted on, thier sounds can still be seen in the music of people like James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic.

Posted by Andrew on Monday, 11.26.12 @ 22:29pm

From 1956 to 1961, The Coasters released a string of classic songs that reflected the life of the 50s American teenager with keen wit and rocking harmonies, but they were also one of the few bands in rock history to successfully straddle the line between music and comedy. Their undeniably funny lyrics and on stage antics might suggest a group of clowns.

Almost all these songs were written, produced and arranged by the remarkable songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The union of a black doo-wop with two white songwriters was one of the most favorable in rock history. Leiber and Stoller's witty, street-smart songs were sung with the sly humor of The Coasters and were often accompanied by the smoking saxophone of King Curtis.

They also made good use of their R&B roots by delivering Leiber and Stoller's comic songs in an up-tempo doo-wop style. Underneath all the humor, the songs often made easy to understand points about American culture for those willing to look a little deeper.

Leiber has described the style of The Coasters as "a white kid's view of a black person's understanding of white society." In fact, the group's success shows us how thin the line between R&B and rock n' roll was in the 50s. Liber also said that the songs that he and Stoller wrote started out as R&B songs that white kids liked and when people bought it, they became rock n' roll songs.

The group had 14 songs on the R&B charts with eight that crossed over into the mainstream pop charts. From 1957 to 1959, The Coasters unleashed half dozen songs that dominated the charts in one of the most formidable hit parades in rock n' roll history with hits like "Searchin'", "Yakety Yak," "Poison Ivy," and "Young Blood."

With such a powerful mix of songwriting and performing talent, The Coasters also had a plethora of lesser known but equally great songs like "That Is Rock and Roll," “What About Us," and "Run Red Run."

The group was also quite popular over in England where The Beatles and The Rolling Stones covered their songs. Sadly, It was the British Invasion that marked the commercial end for 50s groups like The Coasters. While Leiber and Stoller continued to work with the group, The Coasters would never again be as big as they once were.

The Coasters were the first doo-wop group to tear down the wall between R&B and rock n’ roll and them incorporating humor into their music makes it all the more enjoyable. Plus, you also have the incredible songwriting of Leiber and Stoller. While all the member of the group have passed on, if you listen to the music of Parliament/Funkadelic or James Brown, you can hear elements of the Coasters' music.

Posted by Andrew on Saturday, 02.15.14 @ 22:44pm

Great writeup, Andrew. Wonderful group.

Posted by Paul in KY on Monday, 02.17.14 @ 07:37am

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