Carlton “King” Coleman, a pioneer in American rhythm and blues, died Saturday morning, Sept. 11 from heart failure at a Miami hospice, his son said. He was 78. Coleman had been in a nursing home for the past three years and was placed in hospice about three weeks ago.

Coleman was known for providing the lead vocals on the 1959 hit (Do The) Mashed Potatoes recorded with James Brown’s band.


He also released numerous singles of his own during his singing career, including Mashed Potato Man and The Boo Boo Song.

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.

Coleman’s son, Tony, went on to become B.B. 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, the elder 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.

In recent years, Coleman returned to the airwaves with a nightly radio show on WMBM, now a gospel station. His wife said he was last on the air about three and a half years ago. The station's president, Bishop Victor T. Curry, who is also senior pastor of New Birth Baptist Church, will deliver Coleman's eulogy.

In addition to his wife and son, Coleman’s survivors include son, Craig; daughters, Tawana and Tammy; and brother, Henry.

Viewing will be at 6-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at New Birth. Services will take place on Saturday, 10 a.m. at New Birth, 2300 NW 135th St., Opa-locka. Gregg Mason Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

South Florida Times staff writer Renee Michelle Harris contributed to this report.