The Coasters Web Site The Coasters in 1958 with Guy, Gunter, Gardner and (bottom right) Jones. Lester Sill, Jerry Wexler, The Coasters, Ahmet Ertegun, and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

THE GOLDEN ´50s - with the Coasters
16 years of R&B  - by Claus Röhnisch
(BONUS: The Early Vocal Groups and Fifties' Links)


Top 35 Super Hits/Artists of the 1950s
presented as  1. Top Record   2. Top Profile   3. Top Artist

1949
Amos Milburn -. Chicken-Shack Boogie

1950

1.  Joe Liggins – Pink Champagne
2.  Johnny Otis – Double Crossing Blues
3.  Roy Brown – Hard Luck Blues

1951
1.  The Dominoes – Sixty-Minute Man
2.  Charles Brown – Black Night
3.  Ruth Brown - Teardrops From My Eyes

1952
1. Lloyd Price – Lawdy Miss Clawdy
2. The Clovers – One Mint Julep
3. The Dominoes – Have Mercy Baby

1953
1.  Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters – Money Honey
2.  The “5” Royales - Baby Don’ t Do It
3.  Faye Adams – Shake A Hand

1954
1.  The Midnighters – Work With Me Annie
2a.  Guitar Slim - The Things That I Used To Do
2b.  LaVern Baker - Tweedlee Dee
3.  Joe Turner – Shake, Rattle And Roll

1955
1.  The Platters – Only You
2a.  The Penguins – Earth Angel
2b.  I've Got A Woman - Ray Charles
3.  Fats Domino – Ain’t It A Shame

1956
1.  Bill Doggett – Honky Tonk
2.  Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill
3.  Little Richard - Tutti-Frutti

1957
1.  The Coasters – Searchin’
2.  Sam Cooke - You Send Me
3.  Fats Domino – Blue Monday

1958
1. The Coasters – Yakety Yak
2a. Cozy Cole – Topsy
2b. Bobby Day - Rock-In Robin
3. Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode

1959
1.  Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops
2.  Brook Benton - It’s Just A Matter Of Time
3.  Lloyd Price – Stagger Lee

1960
Hank Ballard and The Midnighters - Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go


also check:
Top Rhythm & Blues Records 
- The Top Hit of the 25 golden years of R&B


1949
The pioneer R&B West Coast vocal group the Robins, featuring Bobby Nunn (born September 20, 1925 in Birmingham, Alabama, and settling in Watts - Los Angeles in 1947), wax Double Crossing Blues with Johnny Otis Quintette and Little Esther on the Savoy label in December.

Bobby Nunn (circa 1954).
Bobby Nunn


 

Billboard's Year-End R&B Charts
 
1946

1. Lionel Hampton - Hey-Ba-Ba-Re-Bop
2. Louis Jordan - Choo Choo Ch' Booogie
3. Louis Jordan/Ella Fitzgerald - Stone Cold Dead In The Market
4. Ink Spots - The Gypsy
5. Roy Milton - R.M. Blues
1947
1. Louis Jordan - Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens
with flip: Let The Good Times Roll
2. Louis Jordan - Boogie Woogie Blue Plate
3. Savanna Churchill - I Want To Be Loved
4. Louis Jordan - Jack, You're Dead
5. Eddie Vinson - Old Maid Boogie
with editor's favorite flip: Kidney Stew Blues

Billboard's Year-End R&B Charts
 

1948

1. Sonny Thompson - Long Gone
2. Wynonie Harris - Good Rockin' Tonight
3. Lonnie Johnson - Tomorrow Night
4. Ivory Joe Hunter - Pretty Mama Blues
5. Bull Moose Jackson - I Can't Go On Without You
1949
1. Paul Williams - The Hucklebuck
2. Charles Brown - Trouble Blues
3. Louis Jordan - Saturday Night Fish Fry
4. Jimmy Witherspoon - Ain't Nobody's Business
5. Bull Moose Jackson - Little Girl, Don't Cry


1950
Late this year two young Jewish Los Angeles residents, Jerry Leiber (born April 25, 1933 in Baltimore) and Mike Stoller (born March 13, 1933 in Belle Harbor, Long Island), start to co-operate with distributor-agent Lester Sill.

The Robins in 1953.
The Robins

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Joe Liggins - Pink Champagne
2. Johnny Otis/The Robins/Little Esther - Double Crossing Blues
3. Ivory Joe Hunter - I Need You So
4. Roy Brown - Hard Luck Blues
5. Johnny Otis/Little Esther/Mel Walker - Cupid Boogie

 


1951
Leiber-Stoller bring That´s What The Good Book Says, their first studiorecorded song (and first record issue), to the Bihari Brothers´ Modern label in Los Angeles  where it is waxed by Bobby Nunn & The Robbins (sic - should be Robins) on March 2. Carl Gardner (born April 29, 1928 in Tyler, Texas) plans to leave his home-town (and Houston) where he had sung with Lasalle Gunter´s territorial band to join his brothers Richard and Howard in Los Angeles.

Carl Gardner (circa 1954).
Carl Gardner

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. The Dominoes - Sixty Minute Man
2. Charles Brown - Black Night
3. Ruth Brown - Teardrops From My Eyes
4. Joe Turner - Chains Of Love
5. The Clovers - Don't You Know I Love You


1952
Leiber & Stoller get two of their old time greatest compositions recorded, K.C. Loving (originally recorded by Little Willie Littlefield - later known as Kansas City), and Hound Dog (by Willie Mae Thornton). Savoy Records force bass singer Bobby Nunn to quit recording as a solo act. After his success with the Robins and Little Esther, Nunn had recorded with Mickey Champion, and duetted with Little Esther again for Federal in 1952 in a Leiber-Stoller written take-off of Double Crossing Blues, titled Saturday Night Daddy
(during the other Robins' military services).

Mike Stoller (at the piano) and Jerry Leiber (in 1959).
Leiber-Stoller

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Lloyd Price - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
2. The Dominoes - Have Mercy Baby
3. Ruth Brown - 5-10-15 Hours
4. Fats Domino - Goin' Home
5. Jimmy Forrest - Night Train


1953
Carl Gardner has arrived in California and gets established in Los Angeles´ blues and jazz clubs as a night club dance band vocalist, singing ballads and jazz standards (often with jazz pianist Carl Perkins), and playing drums at "The Oasis" (the new Johnny Otis club) in Watts. The Robins are contracted to RCA Victor (with Grady Chapman as fifth singer) in January. Leiber-Stoller write Ten Days In Jail for the Robins on RCA (with Chapman lead singer). Leiber and Stoller and their mentor and guide, Lester Sill, born in L.A. January 13, 1918 (who had been sales manager for Modern Records, and later was manager of the original Coasters), embark serious business partnership.

Grady Chapman, circa 1955.
Grady Chapman

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Ruth Brown - (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean
2. Faye Adams - Shake A Hand
3. Willie Mae Thornton - Hound Dog
4. The Orioles - Crying In The Chapel
5. Johnny Ace - The Clock


1954
High tenor Cornelius "Cornell" Gunter (born November 14, 1936 in Coffeyville, Kansas) leaves the original Platters (where he had sung lead - succeeded by Tony Williams) and creates the Flairs in Los Angeles in partnership with Richard Berry and Obie Jessie. Carl Gardner joins the Robins, around February, as lead singer on If Teardrops Were Kisses, issued on Leiber-Stoller´s Spark Records in L.A. a year later (Carl is to lead seven of the twelve Spark-recordings by the Robins). Gardner makes his first stage appearance with the Robins on March 13, as part of the Gene Norman show at the Embassy Ballroom. Four ghetto blues jump singles by the Robins are issued between June 1954 and April 1955, including Riot In Cell Block #9 (a regional hit during the summer), Framed b/w Loop De Loop Mambo, and One Kiss - all recorded at Bunny Robyn´s Master Recorders on Fairfax Avenue in Hollywood, and promoted by the  Robins' new agent Lester Sill. Earl Carroll (born November 2, 1937) forms the Cadillacs across the continent in New York City´s Sugar Hill and Ronnie Bright (born October 18, 1938) joins the Valentines. In 1954 the R&B market more than doubles its shares on the American record buyers (although it is still a small market compared to the Pop market).

1954 ad for "Riot..." (Bobby Nunn top center).
Robins ad

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. The Midnighters - Work With Me Annie
2. Clyde McPhatter/The Drifters - Honey Love
3. Ruth Brown - Oh What A Dream
4. Roy Hamilton - You'll Never Walk Alone
5. Joe Turner - Shake, Rattle And Roll

The Robins'  touring schedule (featuring Carl Gardner - Chapman out).
March 13-on
: The Gene Norman show at the Embassy Ballroom in L.A. with Earl Bostic, The Flairs, and Christine Ketrell. The package also toured Bakersfield, Salinas, Ventura, Pasadena, and Oakland. May 7: One week at Johnny Otis' Club Oasis in L.A. July 2-4 or 4-6: The Savoy Ballroom (billed as The Robbins) in L.A. with Richard Lewis and his Band.  July 17: "Fifth Annual Blues Jubilee" hosted by Gene Norman at the Hollywood Shrine with The Chords, The Clovers, The Four Tunes, and The Hollywood Flames. Late July: Radio and TV-shows followed by "The Gene Norman Show" tour to Bakersfield, San Jose, Pismo Beach, Fresno, Salinas, and "The Rancho" in Hollywood. July 22: Two weeks at "The Trocadero" in Hollywood. July 30: "Rhythm & Blues" show on KTTV hosted by Jerry Lawrence with Harry Belafonte, and the Oscar McLollie orchestra. August 17: "The Starlite" in Burbank, CA with Big JayMcNeely, Jimmy Witherspoon, The Flairs, and the Richard Lewis Band. August 19: Ten days at "The Trocadero" with Louis Jordan and his orchestra. September: San Joaquin Valley and northern California with Jo Ann Lynn, and Chuck Higgins and his Orchestra. September 25: The Gene Norman show at the Shrine Auditorium with Guitar Slim, Muddy Waters, The Flairs, The Jewels, Marvin & Johnny, Chuck Higgins, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and The Platters. Late 1954: "The Robins Sing" for Universal-International Pictures. December 27: L.A. Shrine (with Chapman back, the Robins a sextet) with The Clovers, Big Jay McNeely, The Jewels, The Platters, and The Cheers.


1955
Spiritual singer Will "Dub" Jones (born May 14, 1928 in Shreveport, Louisiana) forms the Cadets in L.A. for Modern Records. Billy Guy, now settled in Watts (born June 20, 1936 in Itasca, Texas), waxes a single for Aladdin Records as part of the Californian duo Bip & Bop. The Robins issue their fifth single for Spark in June – I Must Be Dreamin´. Their sixth, Smokey Joe´s Cafe, a wonderful and humor-filled story about not getting too interested in a another man´s woman - with an expressive lead by Gardner - turns out to be the last Spark release. In mid September new Atlantic co-owner Nesuhi Ertegun (brother of Ahmet) produces a session for Atlantic with the Drifters (after Clyde McPhatter's leave) at Master Recorders in Hollywood and informs his brother that Bunny Robyn had engineered some great recordings, produced by Leiber-Stoller, with a vocal sextet for the Spark label. Smokey Joe´s Cafe hits the national R&B and Pop charts (R&B Best Seller #13, R&B Juke Box #10, and Pop #79), now reissued on newly formed Atco Records, as a result of a September 28 deal, in which Atlantic/Atco purchase all Spark masters from Leiber-Stoller. Gardner and Nunn leave the Robins in this deal to create the Coasters, with Lester Sill as manager and Leiber-Stoller as A&R-men and record producers. If one wants to pin-point a specific date for the birth of the Coasters it is September 28, 1955. Leiber-Stoller-Sill knew they could come up with a super-sounding group, based on qualitative individuals surrounding the high-talented Gardner. The original line-up (which will become a perfect vehicle for Leiber-Stoller´s studio inventions) is completed by two further hand-chosen professionals, baritone Billy Guy (by suggestion from Gardner), and Leon Hughes (a southern Californian, born August 26, 1932, and original member of the Hollywood Flames - recruited by Nunn). A long-term contract with Atco Records is signed.

Carl Gardner in 1955.  The original Coasters: Hughes, Guy, Nunn, and (far right) Gardner.
Carl Gardner in 1955    The original Coasters

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Johnny Ace - Pledging My Love
2. Fats Domino - Ain't It A Shame
3. Chuck Berry - Maybelline
4. The Penguins - Earth Angel
5. Ray Charles - I've Got A Woman

The Robins'  touring schedule (featuring Carl Gardner):
January 14-16
: 5-4 Ballroom, L.A. with Floyd Dixon, and T-Bone Walker. February 25-27: 5-4 Ballroom with Johnny "Guitar" Watson. July-August: Nightly shows in Las Vegas. (The Robins continued to tour after the leave of Gardner and Nunn - now supplemented by H.B. Barnum and the returned Grady Chapman).


1956
The Coasters´ first recording session is held in Robyn´s studios in Hollywood in January, and produces two singles. Down In Mexico (about a crazy little place in Mexicali), the Coasters´ first release, hits the R&B charts (Best Seller and DJ #9, Juke Box #8 - with Turtle Dovin'  listed as Juke Box flip hit for one week). Billboard February 25 review of Atco 6064: "Here´s a new and definitely swinging crew and they deliver a couple of highly commendable sides. ´Down In Mexico´ is a fetching ditty which is very close to ´Smokey Joe´s Cafe´. This group carries the lead and bass singer from the Robins unit which recorded the ´Smoke´ side. On the flip the boys score again with a catchy rhythm side. Both have plenty of staying power and should move well." Billboard March 17 "This Week´s Best Buys" (R&B): "This record is getting excellent R&B and pop reaction in a variety of markets. Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, Durham and St. Louis are among the areas in which it has found broad acceptance. Flip is ´Turtle Dovin´´." The second single, One Kiss Led To Another, hits Pop #73 and R&B DJ #11. It was c/w Brazil (originally intended to be the A-side). All four recordings from the first session are led by the earthy, good-humored and happy, clear tenor of Carl Gardner. Billboard July 28 review of Atco 6073: "The Coasters have racked good sales with their two previous disks (actually only one - "Smokey Joe´s Cafe" was the Robins;ed.note), and this clever novelty could be their biggest yet. Humor and slick styling set it apart. Flip, ´Brazil´, is an original treatment of the standard."

The Coasters of 1956.  Coasters ad, 1956
The Coasters

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Bill Doggett - Honky Tonk
2. Fats Domino - I'm In Love Again
3. Little Richard - Long Tall Sally
4. Little Willie John - Fever
5. The Platters - The Great Pretender

The Coasters´ touring schedule:
April 20: 
one week revue, Chicago Palace with Mickey & Sylvia, Ella Johnson with Buddy Johnson Combo.  May:   one week at the Regal Theatre, Chicago. May 11:  one week at the Apollo Theatre, New York with Al Hibbler, and Mickey & Sylvia.  July 28:  Blues Jubilee at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium with Fats Domino, Clyde McPhatter, The Six Teens, The Teen Queens, The Turks, and Oscar McLollie.  August:   guests at Leroy Connely´s live show at the 54 Ballroom in Los Angeles.   September 28:  the Hollywood Shrine Auditorium with Gene Vincent, Alis Lesley, The Six Teens, The Dots, Jerry Wallace, The Turks, The Gassers, and the Ernie Freeman Orchestra.  November 9:  the Apollo Theatre, New York with The Cardinals, Gloria Lynne, Della Reese, and Erskine Hawkins.

The original Coasters in 1956. Gardner, Nunn, Guy (and kneeling) Hughes.


1957
After a long season of road touring (with the singing quartet completed by fifth member, guitarist Adolph Jacobs born in Oakland, CA April 27, 1931), the Coasters enter the recording studios in Hollywood again, in February. The first single from this session results in a double-sided smash. Billboard March 23 review of Atco 6087: "The group is swingy, attractive side in ´Young Blood´, which is bound to pull considerable jockey attention. The rhythm-ballad has powerful lyric appeal for teen-agers, and standout trick-voicing effects. Flip is ´Searchin´´." Billboard May 6 "This Weeks Best Buys" (R&B): "Both numbers are being requested but ´Young Blood´ seems to be the top side. After a fair period, sales have begun to grow and now the platter is big in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and the Southern districts. Strong sales are reported in St. Louis, New York and Buffalo." The original A-side is titled Young Blood (a ghetto rocker about street-corner society, led by the delicious and amusing Gardner, with incredible assistance from his fellow group members)."(Young Blood) the most lascivious of all 'girl-following' rock 'n' roll songs and the very pinnacle of male chauvinist piggery", Bill Millar wrote in "The Coasters" (Star Books, UK, 1974). "Young Blood enters the U.S. Pop chart May 1 and peaks at #8, staying on the charts for 24 weeks; and reaching the national Best Seller R&B chart #1 position on June 3. The B-side Searchin´ (a ruff blues about finding the loved one, featuring Mike Stollers´ inspired alley-piano, and with an unforgettable shrill and vociferous baritone lead by Guy) follows on May 8 and peaks at Pop #3, hitting for a total of 26 weeks; succeeding the original A-side at the R&B Best Seller chart´s #1 position from June 10 for a further 12 weeks during the summer - an achievement only surpassed by a few other classic R&B titles. Searchin´ also occupies the national R&B Disc Jockey chart at #1 for 7 weeks and the Juke Box chart # 1 for 2 weeks (until that chart discloses), with its wonderful flip at #2 on those charts. . A unique phenomenon - both titles of a single charting the U.S. Pop Top 10 - and being hits for half a year, establishes this record as the most famous of all R&B records. Searchin´ reaches #30 on the British Pop chart. Disc Jockeys of America vote the Coasters the "Most Promising Up-And-Coming Vocal Group" in July. The Coasters are rewarded million seller platters for Searchin´ and Young Blood at Steve Allen´s TV-show on August 25. Atco´s and the Coasters´ first LP, "The Coasters" (including several Robins´ Spark recordings and with a photo from the TV-show) is issued in November. The follow-up single (done in Chicago in July), Idol With The Golden Head, only reaches the national Pop chart #64 (but has become one of the Coasters´ most favorite classics). Billboard September 23 review of Atco 6098: "The group comes on strongly with their selling of ´Baby´ (My Baby Comes To Me). With ´Young Blood´ and ´Searchin´´ still going well, their similar approach here can make for a smash follow-up. ´Idol´ is interesting material with unusual lyrics and is presented at an attractive medium-tempo pace. Both sides appear winners." Billboard September 23 "This Week´s Best Buys" (R&B): "Both sides are being requested, and sales are about equal at this point. The platter looks like another two-sided hit-pop action, too." The next two singles, comprising terrific ghetto blues songs, including Sweet Georgia Brown (where Gardner, Guy and Nunn scream out superb individual leads), and the New York-recorded Gee, Golly (one of DJ Alan Freed´s favorites), both fail to score.  Billboard November 18 review of Atco 6104 (Sweet Georgia Brown): "The group leisurely paced the old standard with a fresch approach that draws the most out of each word. The lead gives a very knowing vocal and is excellently supported by the group with good ork backing. Strong side can put the ´Young Blood´ crew back in the chips. Flip is an attractive go on an off-beat side called ´What is the Secret of Your Success´." The annual Cash Box poll vote Searchin' as "Best R&B Record of the Year" and the Coasters as "Best R&B Vocal Group". (note: See "Gee, Golly" review at 1958).

Ad for the famous double-sider.   From "The Cash Box" magazine cover  1957. The Coasters are awarded a double golden disc at the Steve Allen TV-show for "Searchin´" b/w "Young Blood".
The Coasters at the Steve Allen TV show

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Elvis Presley - Jailhouse Rock / Treat Me Nice
2. The Coasters - Searchin'  / Young Blood
3. Sam Cooke - You Send Me
4. Everly Brothers - Wake Up Little Susie
5. Elvis Presley - All Shook Up

The Coasters´ touring schedule:
April 26-28: 
the Broadway Capitol Theatre, Detroit with Faye Adams, Jack Scott, Johnny & Joe, Amos Milburn, Johnny Janis, and the Red Prysock Combo.  May 17:  one week at the Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. with Shirley & Lee, The Cleftones, Bobby Marchan, and Huey Smith.  June 7:  the Apollo Theatre, New York with LaVern Baker, The Heartbeats, Johnny & Joe, Johnny Mathis, and the Red Prysock Band.   June 14:  five weeks with the "Fantabulous Rock and Roll Show ´57" (touring Charlotte, North Carolina; Knoxville; Birmingham; Louisville; Chattanooga; Greenville; and Kinston, North Carolina; also Chicago) with Ruth Brown, Bo Diddley, The Five Satins, The Drifters, The Schoolboys, and Smiley Lewis.  June 22:  the Municipal Auditorium, Charleston with the show above plus Bobby Parker, Johnny Hartman, The Spence Twins, and the Paul Williams Orchestra.  July 10:  the Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans with the show above and Dave Bartholomew´s Orchestra.  
July:  six to ten weeks from the Midwest to California (including July 26 in Milwaukee and July 31 in Denver) with The Five Satins, The Cellos, Gene & Eunice, Lulu Reed, and the Sonny Thompson Orchestra.  August 25:  TV appearance at the Steve Allen TV-show ("Searchin´").  September:  the Mammoth Gardens, Denver, Colorado with The Five Satins, and The Cellos.  October 18:  travelling Revue in Oklahoma City with Lowell Fulson, Lillian Offitt, The Cadillacs, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and the Ernie Freeman Combo.  November 15:  one week at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. with The Hollywood Flames, and the Ernie Freeman Combo.

1957 Tour Poster with the original Coasters (Gardner far right).
 
The original Atco LP 33-101


1958
Billboard February 10 review of Atco 6111 (Gee, Golly): "The group has a relaxed, slow rhythm sound here on an arrangement that bears a touch of ´Searchin´´. Wax has the sound and it could easaly move out. (Dance!): the boys work out on a rocker here with a slightly Latanish kick. Fair effort but flip would be the side." Nunn and Hughes are fired by Lester Sill in late 1957. The Coasters re-form and move to New York in January (Leiber-Stoller had moved in October, 1957), changing the image of the group - from heavy black ghetto blues-styled singing - to 2-minute playlets aimed at young middle-class America. Gardner and Guy are joined by two further Californians, Cornell Gunter (originally promoted as Cornel or Cornelius Gunter) and Will "Dub" Jones, who immediately share leads on a superb revival of Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart (nowadays a "beach music" classic), recorded at Atlantic´s modernized studios, with the legendary Tom Dowd as engineer, in March. Texas-born King Curtis makes his debut as a Coasters side-man on that title and especially on this record´s famous A-side (with the group now vocalizing in the unique unison way that becomes their special trade-mark), Yakety Yak, which hits U.S. Pop #1 and R&B #1 in June (the first hit epitomizing Leiber-Stoller´s special Coasters´ style, ironizing teenagers view on the adult generation). It holds R&B Best Seller #1 for 7 weeks and R&B Disc Jockey #1 for 6 weeks. The record also sky-rockets the Coasters to international fame, reaching #12 on the British Pop chart. The group is awarded their second golden record on the Dick Clark TV-show. Billboard May 5 review of Atco 6116: "The group has a saleable sound on this rocker novelty. The lyrics are musing and the
harmonies are attractive. This could also collect pop coin. Flip is a rhythmic revival of ´Zing!..´." The annual Cash Box poll vote Yakety Yak as "Best R&B Record of the Year" and the Coasters as "Best R&B Vocal Group". The follow-up, a Guy-led off-shot of the comics & radio series hero, The Shadow Knows, fails to score. Billboard August 25 review of Atco 6126: "The Coasters follow up their smash ´Yakety Yak´ with a funky novelty that has down to earth feeling. Kids can dance to this one and it has a chance to bust thru quickly. Watch it. (Sorry, But I´m Gonna...): A swinging novelty with a lilting beat is sold with spirit by the Coasters over a listenable bass figure. Good side by the boys altho the flip is more important."  Jimmy Norman (born August 12, 1937 in Nashville) joins Jesse Belvin´s Chargers in Los Angeles.

The Coasters in 1958 with Guy, Gunter, Gardner and (bottom right) Jones. The Coasters in Arizona - circa late 1958.
The Coasters

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Chuck Willis - What Am I Living For / Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes
2. Bobby Day - Rock-In Robin
3. Elvis Presley - Don't / Beg Of You
4. Nat King Cole - Looking Back / Do I Like It
5. Everly Brothers - All I Have To Do Is Dream

 

The Coasters´ touring schedule:
April: the Apollo Theatre, New York with Fats Domino, the Flamingos, the Spaniels, the Dells, and dj Tommy Smalls. June 13:  the Apollo Theatre, New York with Frankie Lymon, Lee Andrews & The Hearts, Robert & Johnny, Jerry Butler & The Impressions, The Kodaks, Ed Townsend, and The Storey Sisters.  July 22: the Armory in Klamatch Falls, Oregon with Ernie Freeman and his orchestra. August 5:  TV appearance on the American Bandstand ("Yakety Yak").  August 16:  TV appearance at the Dick Clárk Show with Frankie Avalon, Patrick Wayne, and Mary Swan.  September 19:  the Apollo Theatre with The Spaniels, The Danleers, The Olympics, Bobby Hendricks, The Quintones, and Sil Austin´s Combo.  September 26:  the Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. with The Danleers, The Dubs, and Wynona Carr.  October 2:  17-days tour with "The Biggest Show of Stars for 1958 - Autumn Edition" (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Quebec, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana. Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia) with Frankie Avalon, Bobby Darin, The Olympics, Dion & The Belmonts, Bobby Freeman, The Elegants, Jimmy Clanton, The Danleers, Clyde McPhatter, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Jack Scott, and the Sil Austin Orchestra. October 25 & November 4: Fantabulous show at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, Calif with Sugar Pie and Pee Wee plus Johnny Fuller. December 25:  the Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. with The Chantels, and Buddy and Ella Johnson.

At Dick Clark´s TV show with "Yakety Yak" gold in 1958. Gardner, Jones, Sill, Guy, Gunter.
The Coasters and Lester Sill


1959
This year becomes the Coasters´ peak year of their career, starting in February with the internationally top selling story of the incorrigible schoolkid, Charlie Brown, hitting #2 on both the new Hot 100 Pop Chart in the U.S., and on the R&B Hot Chart (plus Pop #6 in the U.K.). It becomes their third million seller. Billboard January 19 review of Atco 6132: "The Coasters turn in an attractive reading concerning the problems of Charlie Brown on this rocking side. Could get coins. Watch it. Good teen lyric. (Three Cool Cats): On this side the Coasters tell of three cats who stand on the street corner watching the chicks as they stroll by. Interesting side, but flip appears stronger." GAC organize a "Biggest Show of Stars, Spring Edition" in March where the Coasters join Lloyd Price, Clyde McPhatter, the Crests, Bo Diddley, and Little Anthony & the Imperials on a package tour. Charlie Brown´s follow-up is Along Came Jones with the prolific Dub Jones acting TV Western cliche-hero with his by now well-known clowning bass vocal, and Albert "Sonny" Forriest succeeding Jacobs as the group´s guitarist (although the banjo, Leiber-Stoller´s special rock ´n´ roll trade-mark, gets the head rhythm role). It hits U.S. Hot 100 #9 and R&B #14 in June. Billboard May 4 review of Atco 6141: "Usual hit approach by the Coasters on hilarious tunes affords them with a likely two-sider. ´Jones´ is a parody of Westerns with Jones coming to the rescue whenever the damsel is in distress. Flip is a ditty about the birth of rock and roll." In October the fourth million seller, Poison Ivy, a magnificent Gardner-Guy duet moralizing over dangerous females (probably the group´s finest ever effort, covered by dozens of later acts) hits R&B #1 for 4 weeks and reaches #7 on the Hot 100 (and peaks at #15 in England). Its flip, I´m A Hog For You
(originally intended for A-side), becomes a Pop hit (#38) and later a collectors´ absolute gem. Billboard August 10 review of Atco 6146: "The Coasters are a likely bet to click again with these hot contenders. Either side can come off for top honors. ´Ivy´ is an interesting bit of material that compares a gal to the well-known weed. ´I´m A Hog For You´ is a peppy blues effort that is also performed with the hit sound." The album "The Coasters´ Greatest Hits" is issued (probably one of original rock ´n´ roll´s most qualitative albums) in October. The Coasters´ last single of 1959 becomes another double-seller. The sardonic What About Us (Pop #47, R&B #17) is coupled with a poker-playing monkey in Guy leading Run Red Run (Pop #36, R&B #29). Billboard November 23 review of Atco 6153: "The group figures to continue its hit spree with this great coupling. Top side (Run Red Run) is about a wild poker game and features crazy piano backing by Mike Stoller. Flip is a complaint about a friend who has everything. Either or both sides here." The Coasters´ records are hailed as pop master-pieces.

"I´m A Hog For You" advertised in trade papers in 1959.  The original "The Coasters´ Greatest Hits".

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Lloyd Price - Stagger Lee
2. Brook Benton - It's Just A Matter Of Time
3. Wilbert Harrison - Kansas City
4. Jackie Wilson - Lonely Teardrops
5. Lloyd Price - Personality

 

s.

The Coasters´ touring schedule:
March 7: 
The Dick Clark TV Show with Dale Hawkins, Paul Anka, and Jaye P. Morgan.  March 13:  one week at the Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. with Clyde McPhatter, and Nina Simone.  March 27:  five days tour with "The Biggest Stars of ´59"  (Richmond, Charlotte, Norfolk) with Lloyd Price, Clyde McPhatter, The Chantels, The Crests, Bo Diddley, LaVern Baker, Frankie Lymon, Wade Flemons, Bobby Hendricks, and Little Anthony & The Imperials.
May 19: the Auditorium at Klamath Falls, Oregon with Ernie Freeman and his orchestra.  July 3:  one week at the Apollo Theatre, New York with The Falcons.  August 7:  one week at the Howard Theatre, Washington, D.C. with Milt Buckner, Tiny Topsy, and the Jesse Powell Combo.   September 4:  four days at the Michigan State Fair, Detroit with Frankie Avalon, LaVern Baker, Billy & Lillie, Jack Scott, Anita Bryant, Freddie Cannon, Bobby Rydell, Rusty York, Skip & Flip, Jan & Dean, Santo & Johnny, Duane Eddy, and Dick Clark.  September 18:  44 one-nights up to October 31 with the "Dick Clark Caravan" (including Syracuse, Montreal, Toronto, Rochester, Richmond, and Norfolk) with Paul Anka, Duane Eddy, Lloyd Price, LaVern Baker, Annette, The Skyliners, Bobby Rydell; and the first week also The Drifters, and Phil Phillips.  November 26:  TV appearance on "American Bandstand" ("What About Us").

Coasters poster (1960 image) - Jones, Gardner, Gunter, Guy.


1960
The Coasters revive Besame Mucho (Pop #70), with Jones acting bass lead. That record is followed by the Billy Guy penned gospel-based story of a recalcitrant garbage man, Wake Me, Shake Me (Pop #51, R&B #14 that summer). In July the Coasters wax the magnificent Shoppin´ For Clothes (where Guy tries to buy an expensive suit on credit from Jones). It only reaches Pop #83 on the Billboard chart and #57 on the Cash Box chart (never even hitting the national R&B chart) but becomes a huge Coasters-fans´ favorite, which splendidly showcases the group´s original black ghetto roots (the song is based on a forgotten West-Coast R&B record written by Kent Harris, titled Clothes Line - in the Coasters´ version issued as composed by Elmo Glick, an often used pseudonym of Stoller´s, who certainly gives new dimensions to this classic).
Some pressings of the Coasters' version were issued as "Clothes Line (Wrap It Up)", which was the original title by Harris. Later Leiber-Stoller-Harris were credited as composers to "Shoppin' For Clothes". The album "One By One" (comprising individual soft-jazz standard vocals) is issued during early Autumn. It introduces Gardner, Guy, Gunter, and Jones as wonderful and smooth vocal individuals.

The "One By One" LP of 1960 - Atco LP 33-123.

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Brook Benton - Kiddio
2. Brook Benton/Dinah Washington - Baby (You've Got What It Takes)
3. Ike & Tina Turner - A Fool In Love
4. Chubby Checker - The Twist
5. Sam Cooke - Chain Gang


1961
Written by Bobby Darin-Don Kirshner, and released in January, Wait A Minute (recorded at Capitol´s studios in New York in December, 1957, with Guy in terrific action), hits Pop #37. This record is followed by the Coasters´ last U.S. Pop Top 30 hit, Leiber-Stoller's own favorite - the original story of Little Egypt (Ying-Yang); with Gardner introducing the tattooed belly dancer, who by the end of the story will become lead singer Guy´s wife. Little Egypt reaches Hot 100 #23 and R&B #16 in June, just as Earl Carroll (who had disbanded his Cadillacs) joins the group, by suggestion from the group´s soon-to-be new manager Lover Patterson, to replace Cornell Gunter. Lester Sill had stayed in Hollywood and managed the Coasters from there. The group is scheduled for a European tour, but several of the members fear the flight. Little Egypt is followed by another Leiber-Stoller song - originally written directly for the Coasters and later copied by Elvis Presley, Girls Girls Girls (Pop #96). The first single with Carroll, (Ain't That) Just Like Me, fails to score.

Handbill of cirka 1961.


Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Bobby Lewis - Tossin' And Turnin'
2. Ike & Tina Turner - It's Gonna Work Out Fine
3. Bobby Bland - Don't Cry No More
4. Freddy King - Hideaway
5. The Miracles - Shop Around


1962
Now without hit records (
Ridin' Hood - recorded in Los Angeles in 1960 and produced by Lester Sill and Lee Hazlewood - fails), the group is still popular on TV appearances and live shows all over America. Thomas "Curley" Palmer (born in El Paso, Texas on August 15, 1929 and a veteran R&B stage musical director) becomes the Coasters´ third regular guitarist around February, debuting at Atlantic´s new NYC studios, with the unscoring Jones-led dance-craze satire, The Climb, in July (originally intended to be named The Slime). The fourth Atco Coasters´ LP, "Coast Along with The Coasters", is issued late that year (although produced already in 1961). Several of the tracks on the stereo edition of that album turn out to be alternate and edited takes. Billy Guy debuts as a solo artist on ABC-Paramount and records Women for Lloyd Price´s Double-L Records in Detroit (Guy´s recordings will be issued on several "Coasters" LPs during the ´70s), but he continues to record with the Coasters for a further ten years.

"Coast Along With The Coasters" - Atco LP (the stereoe version).

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. King Curtis - Soul Twist
2. Ray Charles - I Can't Stop Loving You
3. The Isley Brothers - Twist And Shout
4. Sam Cooke - Bring It On Home To Me
5. James Brown & The Famous Flames - Lost Someone

 


1963
Billy Guy sings lead on the last Leiber-Stoller produced Coasters Atco recording, The P.T.A., in January. Bobby Nunn, who had to leave the Coasters in late 1957, officially for health reasons (although Lester Sill had fired Nunn and Hughes), forms "The Coasters, Mark II" in L. A. Gunter, who recently had sung with D´s Gents as back-up singer for Dinah Washington, embarks another rival Coasters group on the West Coast (later known as "The Fabulous Coasters"). Leiber-Stoller (who had produced nearly all and written most of the Coasters´ recordings) leave Atco.

The Coasters of 1963.   Chubby Checker and Claus Röhnisch (aged 19) at Karlskoga People´s Park in 1963.
The Coasters;                                 Chubby Checker and the editor

Billboard's Year-End R&B Chart
1. Little Johnny Taylor - Part Time Love
2. Inez Foxx - Mockingbird
3. Jackie Wilson - Baby Workout
4. Little Stevie Wonder - Fingertips
5. Martha & The Vandellas - Heat Wave
 


1964
The Coasters are back on the Pop charts (after four unsuccessful releases) with T´Ain´t Nothin´ To Me (Hot 100 #64 in April - and R&B #20 during ten weeks from March-May on the Cash Box Chart), recorded live at the Apollo Theater in November, 1963, with Guy and Jones in magnificent clowning moods. The follow-up record, Bad Detective, fails. Issued in October, a revival of the old Robins´ song I Must Be Dreaming (now with Guy and Gardner splitting leads on a rhythmic soul-blues shuffle), b/w Wild One (written by Billy Guy - about "beatlemania"), also fail to score.
Note: Billboard did not publish any R&B Charts in 1964

The Coasters (with Carroll, Gardner, Guy, and seated Jones) at the "Shindig" TV show in 1965.
The Coasters in 1965

 


The Golden ´50s - with the Coasters - 15 years of R&B:  compiled by Claus Röhnisch, July 29,, 2010

Top Rhythm & Blues Records  - The Top Hit of the 25 golden years of R&B

Bill Daniels' Dusty Charts
DigitalDreamDoor
The Greatest Rock Songs of the 1950s

Rock 'n' Roll Time-Line
Also check these great Fifties' Sites:
Top 40 #1 R&B Hits
Fifties Tunes
50 years of R&B with the Coasters
The Golden Fifties' Golden Vocal Groups
The Top R&B Singles 1950-1969
The Top 10 & Top 100 Songs 1950-1969

R&B Classics that rocked the Juke Box

Billboard's Year-End Archives


The early Vocal Groups and their Classics

Ol'  Man River - The Ravens  (f. Jimmy Ricks) 1947
Crying In The Chapel - The Orioles (f. Sonny Til) 1953
Earth Angel - The Penguins  (f. Cleve Duncan)   1954

Dreams Of Contentment - The Dells    (f. Johnny Funchess) 1955
You' re So Fine - The Falcons    (f. Joe Stubbs) 1959
The Robins
Our Romance Is Gone   (f. Bobby Nunn) 1950

Riot In Cell Block #9   (f. Richard Berry or Nunn) 1954
Smokey Joe's Cafe  (f. Carl Gardner) 1955
 
The Dominoes
Sixty-Minute Man  (f. Bill Brown) 1951
Have Mercy Baby  (f. Clyde McPhatter) 1952
Rags To Riches  (f. Jackie Wilson) 1953
Star Dust  (f. Gene Mumford) 1957

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
  (f. Monroe Powell) 1965
   
 
The Clovers

Fool Fool Fool  (f. Buddy Bailey) 1951

One Mint Julep  (f. Buddy Bailey) 1952
Good Lovin'   (f. Charlie White) 1953

Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash (f. Billy Mitchell) 1954
Love Potion No. 9  (f. Billy Mitchell) 1959


 
 
The "5" Royales

Baby Don´´t Do It (f. Johnny Tanner) 1952

Let Me Come Back Home  (f. JImmy Moore) 1953
When I Get Like This  (f. Johnny Tanner) 1955
Think  (f. Johnny Tanner) 1957
Dedicated To The One I Love (f. Gene Tanner) 1958

 
The Midnighters
Every Beat Of My Heart (f. Charles Sutton) 1952
Work With Me Annie (f. Hank Ballard) 1954

The Twist (f. Hank Ballard) 1959
Finger Poppin'  Time (f. Hank Ballard) 1960

Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go (f. Hank Ballard) 1960
The Moonglows
Baby Please  (f. Harvey Fuqua) 1953

Sincerely  (f. Bobby Lester) 1954
Foolish Me (f. Bobby Lester) 1955
Ten Commandments Of Love (f. Harvey Fuqua) 1958
The Flamingos
Golden Teardrops (f. Sollie McElroy) 1953

The Vow  (f. Nate Nelson) 1956
Lovers Never Say Goodbye (f. Paul & Terry) 1959
I Only Have Eyes For You (f. Nate Nelson) 1959
 
The Drifters
Money Honey (f. Clyde McPhatter) 1953
Ruby Baby  (f. Johnny Moore) 1955
There Goes My Baby (f. Ben E. King) 1959
When My Little Girl Is Smiling  (f. Charlie Thomas) 1961
On Broadway (f. Rudy Lewis) 1963
 
The Platters
Only You (f. Tony Williams) 1955
The Great Pretender (f. Tony Williams) 1956
Twilight Time (f. Tony Williams) 1958
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (f. Tony Williams) 1958
It's Magic (f. Sonny Turner) 1961
 
The Cadillacs
Gloria  (f. Earl Carroll) 1954
Speedoo (f. Earl Carroll) 1955
Woe Is Me (f. Earl Carroll) 1956
Peek-A-Boo (f. James Bailey, Earl & Phillips) 1958
Romeo (f. Bobby Spencer) 1959
 
The Coasters
Young Blood (f. Carl Gardner) 1957
Searchin'  (f. Billy Guy) 1957
Yakety Yak  (f. Carl, Billy & Dub) 1958
Poison Ivy (f. Carl & Billy) 1959
Shoppin'  For Clothes (f. Billy Guy & Dub Jones) 1960
D.W.  Washburn (f. Billy Guy) 1967

The Coasters Web Site

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