Nunn was born in Birmingham but raised in Detroit, Michigan. He was a welterweight boxing champion in the U.S. Air Force. After his discharge in 1947 he moved to Watts, California and began a singing career as "Billy Nunn". He worked for Johnny Otis and Alu Bardi at their Barrelhouse club and made a few recordings.
As "Bobby Nunn", he joined the "A-Sharp Trio" (Ty Terrell, Billy Richards, and Roy Richards) before they changed the name of the group to "The Robins" and added Grady Chapman and Carl Gardner. In 1955 Nunn and Gardner split off to form the original Coasters with Leon Hughes and Billy Guy. In 1957 the Coasters were offered a recording contract contingent on relocating to New York. Nunn and Hughes stayed behind and the rest of the Coasters went on to score seven Top Ten hits such as "Yakety Yak" and "Charlie Brown" with Will "Dub" Jones singing bass.
Nunn continued to record backing vocals and arranged the Billy Guy song "Whip It On Me Baby" for The O'Jays.. In 1959 he and Hughes formed "The Dukes", releasing two singles on Flip Records. In 1962 he founded "Bobby Nunn's Coasters" (later "The Coasters Mark II" and "The Coasters Two Plus Two") with Grady Chapman, Bobby Sheen, and Billy Richards, Jr (a nephew of The Robins' Billy Richards). The group, joined later by Hughes, Jerome Evans and Sonny Chaney, rode the coattails of Nunn's former ensemble, achieving some independent success in Germany. They released a single, "Searchin '75"/"Young Blood", produced by Bumps Blackwell for Chelan Records in 1975. In the 1980s the group appeared on NBC's "Our Time", on "Fabian's Good Time Rock 'N' Roll" oldies special, and in a Church's Chicken commercial.
Nunn died of a heart attack in 1986 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Sheen and Richards, Jr continued to tour with their version of the Coasters. The original Coasters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1987.
- Millar, Bill (1974) The Coasters London: Star Books ISBN 0352300205
- Propes, Steve & Galen Gart (2001) L.A. R&B Vocal Groups 1945-1965. Milford, New Hampshire: Big Nickel Publications ISBN 0936433183
- Gardner, Carl & Veta (2007) Yakety Yak I Fought Back: My Life with the Coasters. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse ISBN 9781425989811
- Bobby Nunn at Find-A-Grave