Member of The Coasters
Las Vegas – Billy Guy, who sang baritone on the hits “Searchin” and “Yakety Yak” as part of the 1950s vocal quartet the Coasters, died Tuesday, November 15, 2002 from arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. He was 66.
Born in Itasca, Texas, in 1936, Mr. Guy was singing in a duo called Bip and Bop when he was recruited by song writers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to become a member of the Coasters, whose name referred to the West Coast. It was 1955 when he joined Carl Gardner and Bobby Nunn, both formerly of the Robins, and Leon Hughes.
The group underwent various personnel changes over the next few years. Nunn was soon replaced by Will “Dub” Jones and Hughes was replaced by Young Jessie, who was replaced by Cornell Gunther, who in turn was replaced by Earl “Speedo” Carroll, formerly of the “Cadillacs”.
Stoller recalled that one of the key sounds in the Coasters for quite a few recordings, including “Yakety Yak” and “Charlie Brown,” was a harmony duet by Gardner and Mr. Guy.
But on “Searchin’, ” Stoller said, “that was Billy all the way on the lead. And also on ‘Along Came Jones,’ the little part in the middle was Billy, who went, ‘eh, eh, along came Jones’ And he also was the lead on ‘Little Egypt.'”
The Coasters entered the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.