MIAMI — Carlton “King’’ Coleman, a pioneer in American rhythm and blues, died yesterday of heart failure in a Miami hospice, his son said. He was 78.
Mr. Coleman was known for providing the lead vocals on the 1959 hit “(Do The) Mashed Potatoes,’’ recorded with James Brown’s band. According to a 2003 Miami New Times article, Brown had initially planned to do the vocals himself, but a dispute with his record label made that impossible.
To avoid any lawsuits from Brown’s label, a Miami producer had Mr. Coleman sing on the mostly instrumental track, while the group officially credited with the song was “Nat Kendrick and the Swans,’’ named for Brown’s drummer.
Besides working with Brown, Mr. Coleman also released numerous singles of his own during his singing career, including “Mashed Potato Man’’ and “The Boo Boo Song.’’
Mr. Coleman also performed with many other rhythm and blues legends, such as B.B. King and Jackie Wilson. He performed at venues all over the country, including the legendary Apollo Theater in New York.
Mr. Coleman’s son, Tony, went on to become King’s drummer.
“I can say that I’m proud to be his son,’’ Tony Coleman said of his father. “I’m proud to be working with his colleagues. He was one of the originals. He was one of the roots, and I’m one of his fruits.’’
Besides performing on stage, Mr. Coleman also worked many years as a radio disc jockey. He started at Tampa’s WTMP and eventually moved on to Miami’s WFEC. He finally ended up at Miami’s WMBM, where he was one of the city’s most popular DJs in the late 1950s.