Leon Hughes, the last original member of the 1950s rhythm and blues hitmaker, The Coasters, has died at age 92.
Hughes died peacefully at his home in Watts on March 1 from natural causes, family members told KTLA 5 News.
The Coasters formed in Los Angeles in 1955 with Hughes, Carl Gardner, Bobby Nunn and Billy Guy comprising the original lineup. In a span of three years, they released a series of hits including “Yakety Yak,” “Down in Mexico,” “Poison Ivy” and “Charlie Brown.”
“Yakety Yak” enjoyed a resurgence in 1986 when it was featured on the soundtrack for Rob Reiner’s coming-of-age film, “Stand by Me,” along with other R&B/Doo Wop classics such as the title track by Ben E. King, “Lollipop” by The Chordettes, and “Get a Job” by The Silhouettes.
In 1987, The Coasters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Hughes’ tenure with the original lineup was relatively short-lived. He left the band in 1957 after a bout with illness that compromised his singing voice, his daughter said. Later in life, he fronted several variations of The Coasters and toured extensively until several years ago.
In 2014, The Coasters were inducted into the Doo Wop Hall of Fame in Hollywood. That same year, Hughes was honored with a Certificate of Recognition from the U.S. Congress which was presented to him by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California).
In addition to performing late into years, Hughes also served as a mentor to younger artists.
“He had a music rehearsal room in the back of his home and helped a lot of people in the neighborhood who had their own groups,” Hughes Lofton said.
Hughes is survived by two living children and six grandchildren.
A memorial service was scheduled for Friday, March 31 at Harrison Ross Mortuary in Los Angeles.