Carl Gardner, the lead singer of the 1950s vocal group the Coasters whose tenor voice powered such classics as “Poison Ivy,” “Yakety Yak,” “Charlie Brown,” “Young Blood” and “Searchin’,” has died of unknown causes. He was 83. Gardner co-founded the group in 1955 and is the only member in its every incarnation over the past 50 years – though in recent years health problems have kept him off the road. “Carl Gardner was one of the great lead voices of the rock and roll era,” soul legend Sam Moore said in a statement.
Despite singing some of the most popular rock songs of the late 1950s, Gardner never got the recognition that he deserved. “Someone stole all the money,” he said in an interview with classicbands.com. “I don’t know who the hell it was.” Gardner also spent decades battling scores of impostor groups touring as the Coasters. “I started the group,” he said. “I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let someone steal if from me.”
In 1987 The Coasters became the first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “At the time they inducted me I thought it was kind of nice,” he said. “But all of a sudden I said to myself, ‘I didn’t get paid, so what the hell do I care?'”