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This is the TRUE story of the legendary Coasters told by group founder Carl Gardner. It is a fascinating behind the scenes look at the early days of the rock n roll. Veta Gardner does a great job of telling Carl's story. Buy the book you won't be sorry.
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Some years ago the NY Times ran an article about members of vintage singing groups testifying on Capitol Hill for the right to have their groups' names copyrighted. Front and center was Carl Gardner, who revealed that fake Coasters were copping 90% of his gigs and therefore his income.
Of course I was psyched to read this man's memoirs. I wanted to hear glorious tales of the R&B nightlife in Los Angeles, the eccentricities of Leiber & Stoller, and his relationship with Grady Chapman, whose lead spot he took over in the Robins--to say nothing of his day on Capitol Hill. (Did the senators ask for his autograph and say, "I've got all your records!"?) The problem is that at 180 pages--less when you subtract the photos and the website stuff--none of this is really in the book. Everything is glossed over very slightly: just when the reader is asking "but what about...?" he pulls back and switches to the next topic. Was Chapman resentful at getting busted down to first tenor? He never says. How does he respond to critics who charge that the Coasters' songs are rife with demeaning stereotypes? He mentions the charges but never replies.
Granted, a lot of show-biz look-backs share these faults. (Eddie Fisher's and Dodd Darin's come to mind, but are still worth a look.) But the subject matter and the author's participation makes the reader expect much more. It seems a rush job, too, with its funny typos (songwriter Doc Primus, promoter Gene Normal, Paul McCarthy, Beatle) and missing periods after sentences. If you buy it, keep your red pencil handy; you'll be scribbling "But what about...?" quite often.