EXPIRED: 09/11/10 – Carlton “King” Coleman, 78, was, in the late 1950’s, a radio DJ at Miami station WMBM who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
And that place was near James Brown.
The year was 1959. James Brown wanted to capitalize on the success of the recent dance craze songs sweeping the nation – especially a bunch of songs about the new dance called the Mash Potato. For his stage show, Brown wanted to record a mashed potatoes-themed instrumental. However, his record company balked at the idea and wouldn’t allow it.
So Brown went behind his record companies back and recorded the track – with Brown on piano – at a smaller studio. The song was called “(Do The) Mashed Potatoes” and Brown played piano and shouted the song’s title. To prevent Brown’s voice from being recognized, the engineer overdubbed the shouted vocals with Coleman’s voice. They released the song under the name Nat Kendrick & the Swans to prevent anyone finding out it was James Brown on the track (Kendrick was Brown’s drummer).
“(Do The) Mashed Potatoes” became a Top 10 R&B hit in 1960 and fed what would eventually grow into a national dance craze.
Brown got his hit, and King Coleman got a new career, going on to record “The Mash Potato Man” and “The Boo Boo Song” later that year.
During his career as a singer 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.
In recent years, Coleman returned to the airwaves with a nightly radio show on WMBM, which is now a gospel station.