The Coasters grew out of The Robins, an L.A.-based vocal group formed in 1947 as The Four Bluebirds. As The Robins, they scored three Top 10 R&B hits in the early 1950’s, “If It’s So Baby,” “Double Crossing Blues” and “Smokey Joe’s Café.”
The success of “Smokey Joe’s Café” inspired Atco Records to offer its composers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, an independent contract to write and produce additional Robins sessions. However, only two of the six members, Carl Gardner and Bobby Nunn, agreed to the deal. For that reason, a new group was built around Gardner and Nunn by adding Billy Guy, Leon Hughes and guitarist Adolph Jacobs. As all were from the West Coast, they decided to call themselves The Coasters.
Their debut hit, “Down in Mexico,” reached #8 on the R&B charts in 1956. Five months later they were back with “One Kiss Led To Another and a two-sided smash that gave the group their first million seller, “Searchin’” and “Young Blood.” The Coasters continued their ride on the Hit Parade with “Yakety Yak” and “Charlie Brown” as rhythm and blues began to be pop with America’s teens. With more pop and R&B hits following, “Along Came Jones,” “Poison Ivy” and “I’m A Hog For You” all written and produced by two of rock’s most successful song writers, Leiber & Stoller.
The personnel of The Coasters evolved over time. Hughes was replaced by Young Jessie for a while. Bobby Nunn left in 1957; Jacobs in 1959. New members Cornelius Gunter and Will “Dub” Jones took their places. Later Ronnie Bright, Jimmy Norman and Earl “Speedo” Carroll checked in – and out. The hits continued into the early ‘60s: “What About Us” (1960), “Wake Me Shake Me” (1960), “Little Egypt” (1961) and “T’ain’t Nothin’ To Me” (1964).
The Coasters were inducted into The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2007.