Pioneering rocker Carl Gardner has died after more than a half-century of doo-wopping. Gardner, lead singer of the Coasters and the only surviving member from the group's heyday, died in Florida after a long illness, reports the AP. He was 83. The Coasters shot to fame in the late '50s with a string of hits including "Yakety Yak," "Poison Ivy," and "Young Blood," many of them written by the songwriting duo that also penned some of Elvis Presley's greatest hits. "He loved his singing," Veta Gardner said of her husband of 24 years. "That was his whole life."
Gardner, the son of a hotel bellman with a sideline in bootlegging and a Comanche Indian mother whose fine singing voice he said was the source of his own, left Texas to seek his fortune in California in the early '50s, the New York Times notes. Gardner—a longtime advocate for legislation to prevent bogus acts from using the names of famous groups—continued singing with the Coasters throughout decades of lineup changes. His son, Carl Gardner Jr., took over as lead singer after his father's retirement in 2005.