On this day in 1956: The Coasters sign with Atlantic Records
61 years ago today, The Coasters took their first big step toward the big time by signing a deal with Atlantic Records.
To tell the origin story of The Coasters, one must first be aware of the band that begat them: The Robins, an R&B group which had found a certain amount of success with their single “Smokey Joe’s Café.” If the name rings a bell (and it should), that’s because it was written – not to mention produced – by the legendary composing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The duo was a fan of the group, as was Atlantic Records, who offered Leiber and Stoller an independent production contract to produce The Robins. Unfortunately, only two members of the group were willing to make the jump to Atlantic, so Leiber and Stoller promptly replaced them and then went ahead and sealed the deal.
The Coasters’ first single for Atlantic Records was “Down in Mexico,” released in 1956, and it was an R&B hit straight out of the box, thereby proving that both Atlantic Records and Lieber and Stoller knew good music when they heard it. By the next year, the group had secured their first top-10 pop hit with “Searchin’” and secured their status as a chart force to be reckoned with.
Surprisingly, The Coasters only had half a dozen top-10 R&B hits during the course of their career, the most recent of which was in 1959, but when you look at the list of those songs – “Down in Mexico,” “Young Blood,” “Searchin’,” “Yakety Yak,” “Charlie Brown,” and “Poison Ivy” – it’s no wonder that they’re still remembered fondly to this day.