In 1957, Carlton “King” Coleman was a Tampa R&B club singer and WTMP morning deejay that went on to work in Miami at R&B stations WFEC and WMBM. He was called “The King of Rhythm and Rhyme” because he made everything he said on the air rhyme – a gift, he says, from his mother.
In 1959, he recorded the vocal shouts for “(Do the) Mashed Potatoes Pt 1” by Nat Kendrick & the Swans (a pseudonym for singer James Brown and his band, the JB’s) for Miami’s Dade Records. During his career, he also released numerous singles of his own, including the popular Brown-produced “The Boo Boo Song (Part 1)” for Cincinnati’s King Records in 1967.
During the first half of the 1960’s, Coleman performed in national and international package shows. But by the middle of the decade, he had grown weary of the road and fell back into radio, taking a job at WWRL in Long Island, New York. On a return trip from Miami in 1966, he had a religious awakening following a terrible automobile crash. Although he didn’t get a scratch, he felt God had spared his life for a reason. So the following year, onstage at New York’s Apollo Theater at the age of 35, he retired from show business and enrolled in Harlem’s Convent Bible School to study for the ministry. Seven years later, he was ordained.
In the mid 70’s, he appeared in several Hollywood films and TV shows, including 1974’s “Claudine” with James Earl Jones and Diahann Carroll. There was also a recurring TV role as Freddy “Boom Boom” Washington’s dad in the popular ABC series “Welcome Back Kotter.”
The rhythm and blues pioneer moved back to Miami in the mid 80’s and, in 1998, began hosting a gospel show on WMBM. In September 2003, he suddenly resigned, only to return several months later to emcee a show at the Club I/O in Overtown, his first since retiring on stage in 1967.
King Coleman passed away from heart failure on September 11, 2010, at a Miami hospice. He was 78.
1957 - 1957 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (On Air Personality)