The Coasters Web Site  The Coasters of 1956.

- by Claus Röhnisch

Bobby Nunn with The Robins start to make hit records for Johnny Otis on Savoy Records in Los Angeles in December.

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.

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.
Leiber-Stoller publish "Kansas City" and "Hound Dog".

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.

Carl Gardner joins The Robins as their new lead singer around February-March and records "If Teardrops Were Kisses" for Spark Records. The Leiber-Stoller composition "Riot In Cell Block #9" by The Robins is a regional California hit during the Summer. Cornell Gunter creates The Flairs with Richard Berry and Young Jessie. In New York Earl Carroll founds The Cadillacs, and Ronnie Bright joins The Valentines.
Will "Dub" Jones forms The Cadets in Los Angeles. The Robins with Gardner as lead hit with "Smokey Joe´s Cafe" on Atco Records in November (recorded for Spark - possibly in January or around August/September). The Coasters are formed via a Leiber-Stoller / ATCO Records deal on September, 28 (as Gardner and Nunn leave The Robins). If one wants to pin-point a specific date for the birth of The Coasters it is September 28, 1955.
The Coasters debut with "Down In Mexico" on Atco Records in January (featuring lead Gardner, second tenor Leon Hughes, baritone Billy Guy, bass Bobby Nunn, and guitarist Adolph Jacobs).
The Coasters are awarded a double golden disc in August for the double-sided smash "Young Blood" (led by Gardner) b/w "Searchin´" (featuring baritone lead Billy Guy). Atco Records issue their and The Coasters´ first LP, "The Coasters", in November.
The Coasters move from California to New York in January, and sell a million with "Yakety Yak" during the Spring (featuring new-comers Cornell Gunter and Will "Dub" Jones - who replace Hughes and Nunn). King Curtis is featured on tenorsax. Jimmy Norman joins Jesse Belvin´s Chargers.
The Coasters hit internationally with "Charlie Brown" and "Along Came Jones" during the year and have a fourth million seller with "Poison Ivy" in the Autumn. The Coasters second Atco LP, "The Coasters´ Greatest Hits", is issued in October.
The group records an underrated, but wonderful LP, "One By One", in June and waxes the magnificent "Shoppin´ For Clothes" in July.
During the Summer "Little Egypt" hits the U.S. Hot 30 and Earl Carroll (who had disbanded his Cadillacs) replaces Gunter by suggestion from the group´s soon-to-be new manager Lover Patterson.
Thomas "Curley" Palmer joins The Coasters as new regular guitarist around February. The Coasters´ third Atco LP is issued, "Coast Along With The Coasters". Several of the tracks on the stereo edition of that album turn out to be alternate and edited takes. Billy Guy starts to record as a solo artist - still recording with the group for a further ten years.
Both Bobby Nunn and Cornell Gunter start to compete with the original Coasters via their own separate new line-ups of "Coasters" Leiber-Stoller leave Atco later that year.
The Coasters are featured on Atco Records´ "Apollo Saturday Night" LP.
The budget LP "That Is Rock & Roll" is issued on the Atco subsidiary Clarion around January. Billy Guy leads The Coasters´ original recording of "Let´s Go Get Stoned" in April and do a great appearance on Shindig TV with a live "What Is The Secret...", and wax a Coca-Cola jingle. Lover Patterson dies.
The Coasters move from Atco Records to Columbia´s subsidiary Date in November - renewing their collaboration with Leiber-Stoller and around this time James Evans succeeds Patterson as manager.
The Coasters wax the original of "D.W. Washburn" for Date Records in October (later reissued on King).
Ronnie Bright joins the Coasters - replacing Will "Dub" Jones - in April.
The Coasters record for Lloyd Price´s Turntable label (with Jimmy Norman the producer). Gardner, Guy, Carroll, and Bright appear at the Boston Tea Party (ten live recordings from one of their shows there will surface on the CD "Greatest Hits In Concert" in 2001).
Cornell Gunter´s "Fabulous Coasters" are engaged in Dick Clark´s revival shows and Leon Hughes starts his "Original Coasters" tribute group.
British Joy issue an LP by "The Coasters", titled "Hungry" (which actually features 12 Billy Guy recordings of 1962, which he had done for ABC and Lloyd Price´s Double-L). The German Stateside LP issue of those recordings, titled "The Coasters", comprises all 16 Guy ABC/Double-L recordings. Atco issue "Their Greatest Recordings - The Early Years", comprising hits and alternates. Carl Gardner´s original and true Coasters hit the U.S. Hot 100 with a re-rendition of "Love Potion Number Nine" on King Records in December (written and produced by Leiber-Stoller).
The Coasters are featured in the movie "Let The Good Times Roll". The last record with baritone Billy Guy as a member of The Coasters, "The Coasters On Broadway" LP on King Records, is issued during the latter part of the year.
Jimmy Norman now definately replaces Guy in the line-up. The American release of Billy Guy´s "Hungry" LP is issued, now titled "It Ain´t Sanitary", on Trip. Carl Gardner´s true Coasters wax ten re-recordings of their hits, including "Love Potion #9", for Trip (issued in 1975 as "16 Greatest Hits" - with six "bonus" tracks from Guy´s LP). Gardner´s Coasters (with Norman) again appear at the Boston Tea Party (and four new live recordings are included together with Cornell Gunters´ Coasters of 1970 - featuring bass Nat Wilson on a New Rose bootleg CD several years later).
Billy Guy starts his luck as a producer and comic story teller (aka "The Tramp") for All Platinum /Snake Eyes. Bill Millar publishes his book "The Coasters" on Star Books in the U.K.
Leon Hughes and Bobby Nunn (together with Grady Chapman and Jerome Evans) cut a single in Los Angeles, produced by Bumps Blackwell, featuring newly recorded versions of "Searchin´" and "Young Blood". The record is issued as by "The Coasters - Two Plus Two". Around the same time Billy Guy is featured on another "Coasters" single, "You Move Me" (actually Guy solo).
Carl Gardner and his true Coasters record a single for Wilson Pickett´s Wicked label. Will Jones and Leon Hughes lead a "Coasters" group on AIA/DJM, "The World Famous Coasters" (including the Jones-led "If I Had A Hammer"), later reissued on a C5 CD as "Just Coastin´".
Billy Guy and Will Jones are featured on a King-Starday "Coasters" session in Nashville. An LP, titled "Greatest Hits" will be issued the following year. The session also produces the European single "Jumbo Bwana" and the later so often reissued "One Foot Draggin´".
The true Coasters, now without new recordings, have to settle for an Atlantic compilation issued in the U.K., "20 Great Originals" (featuring stereo alternates of their Atco hits).
Bobby Nunn with Bobby Sheen, Billy Richards Jr, and Randy Jones are featured on a disco-styled "Coasters" album on Salsa Picante, titled "Coastin´". Earl Carroll, who had acted with The Coasters since 1961 and was on stage without Jimmy Norman during the very late 1970s, leaves The Coasters by the end of the year (after more than 18 years with the group).
A true Coasters compilation on the Swedish Mr. R&B label, titled "What Is the Secret Of Your Success?", comprising rare Coasters Atco tracks is issued.
Earl Carroll reforms his Cadillacs, and Jimmy Norman returns to The Coasters.
A marvelous double-LP on Atlantic-DeLuxe, titled "Young Blood", is issued in U.S. and Europe (featuring 21 original Atco super-sounding mono tracks plus three bonus tracks from "On Broadway"). The album has extensive liner-notes by Robert Palmer and a serious try at a session discography (based on the discography Kurt Mohr and Norbert Hess had supplied to Bill Millar).
Grady Chapman (formerly of The Robins and Bobby Nunn´s Coasters) tours with his own fake Coasters. Billy Guy & Will "Dub" Jones perform with their combined "Coasters" group in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Several Atco Coasters albums are issued in Japan on the Warner/Pioneer label (also featuring alternates) during the early 1980s.
Edsel in the U.K. issue "Thumbin´ A Ride" with rare Atco tracks.
After 30 years of fame, and of late-coming struggles, Gardner meets Veta, marries and moves to Florida.
Carl Gardner´s original and true Coasters (featuring Norman, Bright and Palmer), now managed by Gardner´s wife Veta face new regular bookings all over America. Warner (WEA in Europe) issue The Coasters´ very first CD, "The Ultimate Coasters". Bobby Nunn dies in November, but Billy Richards Jr (of The Robins) continues to tour with a West-Coast version of "Coasters".
Gardner, Guy, Jones and Gunter are inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in January as the first vocal group receiving that honor. The "On Broadway" LP is reissued on a Highway-DeLuxe CD titled "20 Greatest Hits" (also featuring 8 tracks from the Guy-Jones Nashville session - and reissued in 2006 on Gusto TeeVee).
The classic Coasters reunite for a one-time-event to participate at Atlantic Records´ 40th Birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in May (and do it again seven years later for Lester Sill). The original four million records awards are completed with yet another two Golden Records - for "Young Blood" and "Along Came Jones". The Coasters wax six live recordings at Wolfman Jack´s "Little Darlin´s" rock ´n´ roll club in Orlando, Florida (also issued on Video and on a great DVD on K-Tel in 2003).
Atco reissue "The Coasters´ Greatest Hits" (comprising 12 super classics) again - they had done so several times before - this time though on compact disc. The CD features "Poison Ivy" in the original version - with no wood percussion. Gardner´s Coasters appear in the movie "Phantom of The Ritz".
Cornell Gunter is shot to death in Las Vegas in February - remnants of his group continue to tour.
The Coasters (with Carl Gardner) perform at the New York Pops concert at Carnegie Hall in May.
The Coasters perform regularly at Wolfman Jack´s rock´n´ roll club in Orlando, Florida. Rhino Records issue the double-CD "50 Coastin´ Classics" (Atlantic had planned a CD, titled "Poison Ivy" in their "The Best Of"-series in 1991, but that CD was withdrawn in favor of the Rhino issue).
Gardner regularly faces the problem of competing with fake and bogus line-ups of "Coasters" managed by Larry Marshak (and others). At times there are as many as ten "Coasters"-groups active. Several fake "Coasters" albums are recorded during the early 1990s (among others a Leon Hughes video).
Rhino Records issue "The Very Best of The Coasters". Gardner recovers after a short cancer treatment. "Sorry But I'm Gonna Have To Pass" hits the British charts # 41 in August. Lester Sill dies in October.
The Leiber-Stoller musical "Smokey Joe´s Cafe" hits Broadway and also hits internationally (featuring several Coasters classics with new performers).
Carl Gardner records his solo CD "One Cool Cat" in Florida in April.
The four original Atco Coasters LPs are reissued on four British Sequel CDs, this time though all comprising several bonus tracks, giving the buyer a total of 100 Coasters recordings, including alternate stereo tracks and stereo masters of the original hits. Alvin Morse joins The Coasters in November.
Billy Guy "leases" his name to Larry Marshak´s fake Coasters (just after an agreement between Billy Richards and Carl Gardner about the use of the Coasters´ name). Jimmy Norman leaves Gardner´s Coasters around February to start a new reggae career - replaced by Carl´s son, Carl Gardner Jr.
"Yakety Yak" is awarded a Grammy Halll of Fame. "The Coasters Web Site", approved by Veta and Carl Gardner, is published; and Gardner´s Coasters are legally recognized as the true Coasters.
Will "Dub" Jones dies in California in January. Cornell Gunter´s sister Shirley "leases" Gunter´s name to Marshak´s Coasters (right after Billy Guy´s agreement with Gardner). A phenomenal CD with 1958 Atco studio recordings and studio chat is issued, titled "Charlie Brown", not yet another compilation but 24 superb true stereo Atco tracks, comprising unissued masters, the-never-before issued "Crocodile", an alternate "Hey Sexy" with Gardner doing a superb lead, new versions of "I´m A Hog For You", alternates including studio chat, false starts and outtakes etc etc.
Veta Gardner and Claus Röhnisch start The Coasters Fan Club and make it possible for Coasters-fans to buy Coasters merchandise including a repackage of the 1958 studio CD. J W Lance replaces Gardner Jr in July.
On November 5, Billy Guy dies in his sleep at home in Las Vegas, Nevada (on the day of Nunn´s death 16 years earlier). Carl Gardner, Jr forms a Coaster´s Review in California.
Carl Gardner is 75 years old on April 29 - and a huge celebration is held in early May. On December 26, exactly two years after its recording, the DVD titled "Live from The Palace of Auburn Hills" is issued, featuring the present Coasters. This is not the first Coasters DVD - earlier in the year K-Tel had issued "The Best of The Coasters - live from Rock ''n'  Roll Palace" with six great classics with The Coasters at Little Darlin's in Orlando in 1988. We haven´t heard the last from The Coasters yet!
Carl Gardner celebrates 50 years of recording activities in February - debuted with "If Teardrops Were Kisses" (lead for The Robins in February, 1954). In November Carl Gardner, Jr. returns to his father's group after more than three years of working in California. In December Collectables ( reissue The Coasters' original ATCO LPs "The Coasters" and "One By One" on one CD (which will be coupled in late 2005 with "Coast Along with The Coasters", featuring the alternate stereo takes).
On November 5 Carl Gardner Jr officially takes over lead vocals from his father, who semi-retires (still the group's leader and coach). The album "50 Golden Years with Carl Gardner & The Coasters" is issued, featuring rare and unissued recordings. The story of The Coasters continues..
Carl Gardner's Autobiography "Yakety Yak I Fought Back - My Life with The Coasters" is finally written down with Veta Gardner and ready to be published.
Gardner's book is out for grabs in July! On August 27 VarèseSarabande (VarèseVintage) issue all of The Coasters' Date/King sides, titled "Down Home" (CD 302066844-2). On December 12 a terrific 4CD-compilation on Rhino Handmade, "The Coasters On Atco - There's A Riot Goinä On" is issued, featuring the complete Coasters Atco Recordings (113 tracks on Rhino RHM2 7740). Rhino are also to issue a 2-set CD in their "The Definitive Soul Collection" series, comprising 30 Coasters tracks in chronological order, featuring all their Pop Hits.
The Coasters' touring schedule is steady and regular. Rhino’s planned issue of a 2-set CD for their "The Definitive Soul Collection" series, comprising 30 Coasters mono tracks, featuring all their Pop Hits chronological, is still delayed (but Rhino reissue "The Very Best of". Veta Gardner’s site decides to redirect visitors to The Coasters Web Site. On April 29 Carl Gardner Sr. is 80. In October Alvin Morse is replaced by Primotivo Candelara.


Late this year Ronnie Bright, who was a member for over 40 years, is replaced by "Fast" Eddie Whitfield.

The Coasters Time-Line
presented by Claus Röhnisch, June 20, 2008

The Coasters Web Site

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