Lead singer of the Coasters, JW Lance, was happy to discuss his upcoming appearance with the Coasters on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 8 pm, at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Blvd West in the Bronx, N.Y. The Coasters will share the stage with other performers such as Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Platters, Shirley Aston Reeves, Chiffons and Good Vibrations.
A 1950s and ‘60s group, the Coasters are best known for their humorous tunes that earned them the name Clown Princes of Rock ‘n Roll. The Coasters were originally formed in 1955 in Los Angeles, California and were comprised of original singers: Carl Gardner, Billy Guy, Will Jones and Cornel Gunter, all who have passed. Most of The Coasters material was written and produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller with the partnership between The Coasters and Leiber and Stoller bringing the Coasters instant success.
The present group consists of JW Lance, Dennis Anderson, Primotivo (Primo) Candelaria, Edward Whitfield and Raymond Sabatello (their musical director). The group occupies a special niche in the music world. With 10 Top 40 hits like “Young Blood,” “Along Came Jones,” “Poison Ivy,” “Charley Brown” and “Yakety Yak.” The Coasters were the first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The current Coasters’ line-up was all hand-picked by the group’s original lead singer Carl Gardner before his death in 2011. The present group is now managed by Veta Gardner, Carl’s wife, who currently owns the name of the Coasters.
“We look forward to performing at Lehman Center. It will be a great show. We have quite a few acts on the show roster to make it a strong show. We will be performing with The Platters, The Chiffons, Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Shirley Alston Reeves, and Good Vibrations. All good groups,” commented JW. By the way, although the Coasters are often referred to as a Doo-Wop Group we see ourselves as a Rock ‘n Roll Group. We are a nostalgic type group with an R&B type feeling. I also want to mention that the Coasters have been certified with over 100 million records sold,” the Coasters member remarked.
“I like all our songs but I guess “Along Came Jones” is a favorite because it’s so funny as is Yakey Yak. The Coasters have put out some recent songs entitled “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and CDs The Magical Favorite Album, Christmas with the Coasters and Soul of the Coasters on Sony. Fans can find our songs on Cleopatra Records as well,” explained the lead singer. “I personally wrote a song called “Bad Feet,” which I will eventually pass on to the Coasters,” said Lance. “We just finished “Alligator Alley,” and “Too Blessed to Be Stressed.” Therefore, folks can look forward to obtaining those CDs in the future. Folks can also get them on Amazo
Recently the Coasters did 40 states and 60 cities with the show “Smokey Joe Café.” “We were happy to be asked to do ‘Smokey Joe’s Café.’ It was one of our million seller hits. When I saw all the young kids dancing and doing all that high stuff, I thought we weren’t going to be able to do that. But they assured us we only needed to be ourselves,” stated Lance. “It was the first time we did a show like that but it was very exciting for us. We really enjoyed it. Primo is our choreographer. Since he has been aboard he has improved our dancing since originally the Coasters didn’t do a lot of dancing. Primo makes us look really good on stage. Our manager Vita Gardner provides all our costumes and for ‘Smokey Joe’s Café’ she had our costumes especially made,” explained the singer and instrumentalist.
All the current Coasters live on the East coast. “I was born in New Orleans and lived in a small town outside New Orleans. I couldn’t afford a guitar so I played a cigar box with rubber bands. Of course I was eventually able to afford a guitar. I play the bass and also write music. I’ve performed some country and gospel music but I guess I was just born with the music in me. In my younger days, I used to dream one day I might be a lead singer with the Coasters. Clearly God works in mysterious ways. I met Carl Gardner in 2001 although I had seen him perform at the Apollo Theater but never really got the chance to talk to him until 2001 when he hired me as the lead singer because I sang three octaves. That was a golden moment for me because Carl was such a warm and nice person. The Coasters are like a family because we are always together performing.
In 1987, the Coasters became the first group inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and also joined the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.