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Carl Edward Gardner (April 29, 1928 – June 12, 2011) was an American singer, best known as the foremost member and founder of The Coasters. Known for the 1958 song "Yakety Yak", which spent a week as number one on the Hot 100 pop list, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Gardner was born in Tyler, Texas, to Rebecca and Robert Gardner. As a singer, his first major career success came with The Robins, a rhythm and blues group that had a big hit in 1955, "Smokey Joe's Café".
After leaving that group, in 1956 Gardner formed the Coasters with the Robins' bass singer Bobby Nunn, Leon Hughes and Billy Guy, at the behest of the songwriting/producing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and had a two-sided hit in 1957, "Youngblood" (on which Gardner sang lead) and "Searchin'". With new members Cornel Gunter and Will "Dub" Jones, the Coasters went on to produce several enduring classics of 1950s rock and roll music including "Yakety Yak", "Charlie Brown", and "Poison Ivy".
Gardner's son, Carl Jr., officially joined the Coasters in late 2005, after Gardner semi-retired, although Carl Jr. had been touring with them since at least 1998.
Carl Gardner, Sr. died on June 12, 2011, after suffering with congestive heart failure and vascular dementia (according to the Coasters website). Carl, Jr., took over as lead singer, but left the group in 2012 to form his own Coasters group. Veta Gardner, Carl's widow, manages the group, which contains no original or recording members.
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