Carl Gardner, founder and original lead singer of the 1950s R&B group The Coasters, died of congestive heart failure in Florida. The last surviving member of the group, he was 83.
According to the Associated Press, Gardner’s wife Veta confirmed her husband’s death on June 12 in Port St. Lucie hospice and said he was also battling Alzheimer’s.
“He was such a humble person,” his wife told the AP. “If you met Carl, you would never know he was famous.”
Born in Tyler, Texas in 1928, Gardner later moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s. According to Reuters, he was the lead singer of the L.A. group The Robins before he and fellow band member Bobby Nunn linked up with local musicians Leon Hughes, Billy Guy and guitarist Adolph Jacobs to form the Coasters in 1955.
“He loved his singing,” Veta Gardner told the AP. “That was his whole life.”
The group was known for its hits depicting teenage antics, including “Poison Ivy,” “Young Blood,” and “Yakety Yak,” which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 list following its 1958 release.
In 1987, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their “string of classic singles that reflected the life of the American teenager with keen wit and hot, rocking harmonies.” Their work would later be covered by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
The Coasters continued to tour throughout the decades an endured several lineup changes. Gardner’s son, Carl Jr., took over as lead singer when he retired in 2005.
In addition to his wife, a brother, a sister, two sons, a daughter and several grandchildren and great grandchildren survive Gardner. His funeral will take place on June 21 in Port St. Lucie.