President and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Terry Stewart, on the musical legacy of the late Carl Gardner:
Carl Gardner’s unique sound epitomized the legendary lead voices of the vocal groups that were the bedrock of the origins of rock and roll.
From his beginning as the lead of the Robins, to his founding of the Coasters, his expressive, versatile, and compelling voice created a legacy of music that will be played forever. It is not surprising that the group that gave us “Searchin,’” “Young Blood,” “Down in Mexico,” “Smokey Joe’s Café,” “Charlie Brown,” “Yakety Yak” and thirteen other chart hits was the first vocal group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 1987.
When I heard that Steve Popovich had died, I was shocked in an incredulous way. Steve was a Mount Rushmore-type figure. He’d done so much and knew so many people, you just assume a guy like him was going to be a constant. Alas, no one is like that. Dust to dust.
I knew Steve casually, but his loss makes me wish I knew him better. He was the kind of person you wish you could be – smart, engaging, widely respected. He had an insatiable appetite for music and conversation. He was a true blue collar guy, son of a coal miner from Nemacolin, PA. He was the living proof that you never judge a book by the cover. He appeared to be no different than the guy at the end of the bar. The exception being that Steve was responsible for breaking hit records from major stars like Boz Scaggs, Michael Jackson, Boston and others during his tenure at Epic Records. As the founder and guiding visionary behind Cleveland International Records, Steve championed artists who moved him, like Meat Loaf, Ian Hunter, Frankie Yankovic, Ronnie Spector and Brave Combo. He truly lived and breathed music. It had no ...