Bobby Nunn born 1925, Birmingham, Alabama, bass
This R&B vocal group hailed from Los Angeles, USA. The illustrious career of the Coasters, the pre-eminent vocal group of the earl rock 'n roll era, was built on a remarkable body of cleverly comic R&B songs of their producers, Leiber And Stoller. Under their direction, the Coasters eschewed the crooning of ballads favored by most groups of the era for robust and full-throated R&B shouting. The group came together in 1955 from remnants of the Robins, who had a dispute with their producers/songwriters, Leiber and Stoller. The original Coasters consisted of two ex-Robins, Carl Gardner (b. 29 April, 1928, Tyler, Texas, USA; lead) and Bobby Nunn (b. 1925, Birmingham, Alabama, USA; bass), plus Leon Hughes (b. 1938; tenor), Billy Guy (b. 20 June 1936, Itasca, Texas, USA; lead and baritone) and Adolph Jacobs (b. Oakland, California, USA; guitar). Hughes was replaced in 1956 by Young Jessie who in turn was replaced by ex-Flairs Cornell Gunther (b. 14 November 1936, Los Angeles, California, USA). Nunn in 1958 was replaced by ex-Cadets Will "Dub" Jones (b. 1939, Los Angeles, California, USA), Ex-Cadillacs Earl Carroll (b. Gregory Carroll, 2 November 1937, New York, New York, USA) replaced Gunther in 1961.
The Coasters first charted with "Down In Mexico" (US R&B Top 10) in 1956, but the double-sided hit from 1957, "Searchin" (US R&B number 1 and pop number 3) and "Young Blood" (US R&B number 2 and pop Top 10) established the group as major rock 'n roll stars. (In the UK "Searchin" reached number 30). Three more giant hits sustained the Coasters' career, namely "Yakety Yak" (US R&B and pop number 1 in 1958), "Charlie Brown" (US R&B and pop number 2 in 1959), and "Poison Ivy" (US R&B number 1 and pop Top 10 in 1959). In the UK "Yakety Yak" went to number 12, "Charlie Brown" to number 6, and "Poison Ivy" to number 15, the group's last chart record in the UK. By this time, they were generally regarded as one of the wittiest exponents of teenage growing problems to emerge from the rock 'n roll era. By the early 60's the lustre had worn off, as the hits increasingly emphasized the comic lyrics to the detriment of the music. The group continued for decades as an oldies act, and fractured into two different groups playing the oldies circuit. Bobby Nunn died on 5 November 1986; Cornell Gunther on 26 February 1990.
- The Coasters (1958)
- One By One (1960)
- Coast Along With The Coasters (1962)
- On Broadway (1974).
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were attempting mini-radio plays in the writing and production work with the Coasters that provided all concerned with a string of hits that ran from 1955 into the early '60s. They added a few things to their memories of chestnuts like The Shadow Knows, however: the new R&B's stomp and swing, along with a subversive edge that made this kid stuff sound knowing to adults. As finely calibrated as anything to come out of the era's recording studios, sides like "Young Blood," "Searchin'," and "Along Came Jones" are definitely raucous, definitively hilarious. Inspirational verse, from "I'm a Hog for You": "One little piggy ate a pizza / One piggy ate potato chips / But this little piggy's comin' over your house / He's gonna nibble on your sweet lips." --Rickey Wright