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Singer Bobby Nunn, 61; Member of Original Rock 'n' Roll Coasters

November 08, 1986

The bass-baritone whose plaintive "Why is everybody always picking on me?" became a signature phrase of the 1950s, has died in his Los Angeles home

Bobby Nunn, one of the original four Coasters when that rock 'n' roll vocal group was formed in 1955, was 61 and suffered a massive heart attack Wednesday night, said Tony Ruiz on Friday. Ruiz is a member of one of the Coasters groups now touring amid the 1950s nostalgia craze.

With Carl Gardner, Leon Hughes, Billy Guy and Nunn, The Coasters recorded a series of comic doo-wop hits that kept them at the top of the popular music charts for nearly 15 years.

Offshoot of Robins

The group began as an offshoot of the Robins, a Los Angeles-based quartet sponsored by producer Johnny Otis. The Robins' best known hit probably was "Double Crossing Blues" with Little Esther Philips. They also did well on the West Coast with "Riot in Cell Block No. 9" and "Smokey Joe's Cafe."

Gardner and Nunn split away from the Robins in 1954 and a year later, with producers and writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, began a series of recordings for Atlantic.

They chose the name Coasters because of their West Coast base.

Their first recording, "Down in Mexico," made the Rhythm and Blues Top 10 in 1956. Such songs as "Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown" (featuring Nunn's booming bass as a musical Rodney Dangerfield who is always being picked on), "Along Came Jones," "Poison Ivy" and "Love Potion No. 9" brought the group four gold records.

Front Different Groups

In recent years, the original members have each fronted different groups and all billed themselves as The Coasters.

The group recently was nominated to the new Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and will be inducted in January, said Billy Richards, Nunn's business manager.

Nunn is survived by six children.

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