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Gary Allan biography (bio):
Gary Allan is an American country music singer-songwriter. Signed to Decca Records in 1996, Allan made his debut on the United States country music scene with the release of his single "Her Man", the lead-off to his debut album Used Heart for Sale. A string of minor hits followed throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s, interrupted only by Decca's merger into MCA Nashville in 1999.
Allan broke through the 2000s with three straight platinum albums: Smoke Rings in the Dark (2000), Alright Guy (2002) and See If I Care (2004), the second of which produced his first Number One single in "Man to Man". To date, Gary has recorded six studio albums and a Greatest Hits package, in addition to scoring nine Top Ten hits (three of which reached Number One) on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.
Allan is the son of Harley and Mary Herzberg. He was raised in Whittier, California. To ensure that the family would focus on music, Allan's mother insisted that the family guitars remain visible. At age thirteen, Allan began playing in honky tonks with his father. Two years later he was offered his first recording contract, but rejected the deal. His father felt that Allan had not developed his own distinctive style yet, and they wanted him to finish his education. Despite his commitment to finishing school, Allan reflects that he was rarely alert in class. "I played the bars at night, I was half asleep when I got to school. I thought sleep was what you did when you got to school."
He continued to play in the bars with his band, the Honky Tonk Wranglers. Many of the venues they played were packed, and promoters often tried to move them to larger clubs. The moves would have required him to stop playing some of the older country music, such as covers of George Jones songs, so Allan refused.
Gary was intoduced to Songwriter/Producer Byron Hill on August 28, 1993 by a mutual friend and talent-scout Jim Seal, at a bar called the Lion D'or in Downey, CA. Gary was a regular performer there. Jim and Byron had asked Gary if they could showcase an unsigned act that they were developing at the Lion D'or. Byron had arranged to bring the head of A&R from a major label out to the show to see this other act perform. Gary kindly let them use his stage for the event, giving the new act the opening performance slot that night. They promised Gary that they would make sure the A&R person remained there to see his portion of the show. Everyone was knocked out with Gary's performance, and very impressed with his voice. From that point on Byron began sending Gary songs. Without any serious funding at the time, Jim Seal and Byron arranged for Gary to go into Jim's small studio in California to try his vocals on some of existing demo tracks that Byron had sent to Gary from Nashville. Meanwhile, Byron became head of A&R at BNA Entertainment on October 29th of that same year and immediately wanted to sign Gary to BNA, but the then current roster conditions and other circumstances connected with the planned restructuring of RCA/BNA Nashville stood in the way.
From Demo to Deal:
In the meantime, Allan took a job selling cars. He left his demo tape in the glove box of a car purchased by a wealthy couple. When they discovered that he was the singer, they immediately wrote him a check for $12,000 so that he could chase his dream. This independent funding allowed Gary to come to Nashville to record some of the songs that were on that early demo tape with Byron Hill as producer. On September 11, 1995, they began working at Javelina Studios for a couple of days on the four songs that Byron immediately started showing to labels. Gary's recordings brought serious responses from several labels including Mercury, RCA, and Decca. A planning meeting was then held at a Nashville hotel between Byron, Gary, and friend of Gary's who was a program director for a radio station in California. The meeting was to arrange two showcases in Los Angeles which put Gary on stage at two of the radio station's regular nights at a local club. Byron arranged for staffers at the Nashville office of Decca Records to attend the first showcase held on November 1, 1995. Decca immediately wanted to sign Gary, and knowing that Byron was lining up other labels to see Gary, Decca asked them to cancel the second showcase. A rep from RCA was already booked to see the second showcase the following week, but the "bird-in-hand" deal offer was too tempting for both Byron and Gary, so they committed to the Decca offer. Decca staffer Mark Wright and Byron Hill co-produced Gary's first three albums for Decca beginning sessions on March 11, 1996 for "Used Heart For Sale", then "It Would Be You", both of which yielded top 5 singles, and later "Smoke Rings In The Dark" (which also included Tony Brown as a co-producer). It was during the recording of the first album that they also recorded "It Must Have Been Ol' Santa Claus", as an added track to be packaged on various MCA/Decca Christmas compilations. The song was written by Harry Connick, Jr.. Byron and Gary got a personal call from Harry thanking them for the recording, during which he added a few of his New Orleans Jazz style "very cool man!" compliments. The Christmas recording has been since released on at least four compilations. The merger of Polygram, Decca, and MCA Records marked the closing of Decca and Gary was moved to MCA Records.
In 2004, Gary's wife, Angela Herzberg, committed suicide in their Hendersonville, Tennessee home. She was buried in her hometown in Cleburne, Texas.
Used Heart for Sale:
His first deal, with Decca Records, produced the 1996 album Used Heart for Sale. The album was named "Best of the Month" by Stereo Review. It advanced to the top 20 of the charts, and produced a Top 10 country hit with the track "Her Man". Other tracks from the album, however, proved less successful.
It Would Be You:
His second album, It Would Be You, was released in 1998. Although Allan had been writing songs since he was a teenager, he does not hesitate to bump his work from his albums in favor of those written by other songwriters he respects. For his second album, Allan replaced one of his songs with "No Judgement Day", written by Allen Shamblin. Although the song was a hidden acoustic track, radio stations began giving it heavy airplay. The title track of the album became Allan's second top 10 hit of the year, remaining in the top 10 after 21 weeks of radio play, "way beyond the tenure of most disposable radio hits." At the beginning of 1999, Decca Records folded, and when Allan moved to the parent label, MCA Nashville, It Would be You was left in limbo.
Allan was labeled "Country Music's Sexy Star" by People Magazine. He also delved into the acting world in the TV mini-series Shake, Rattle, & Roll, playing the lead role of Eddie Cochran. He followed that role with a part in the CBS TV series Pensacola - Wings of Gold, but describes his acting experience as "tedious."
Smoke Rings in the Dark:
In 1999, Allan released Smoke Rings in the Dark, an album he recorded while in the midst of a divorce from his second wife, Versace model Danette Day, after only seven months of marriage. Unlike his first two albums, Smoke Rings in the Dark made fuller use of background singers and stringed instruments, "resulting in a lusher, fuller sound." The new album avoided the "devil-may-care brashness" of the first two, instead presenting a tone balanced between youthful optimism and "the knowledge that some of life's experiences exact a high toll." Smoke Rings In The Dark was certified platinum, and it included two successful singles.
In 2001 the album Alright Guy was released. It contained the single "Man To Man," which became his first Billboard No. 1 hit. The same year, Allan married for the third time, to Angela, a flight attendant he met on an airplan
See If I Care:
Despite his previous success and eight years in the music business, Allan was nominated for the Country Music Association's Horizon Award, typically given to newcomers, in 2003. The same year he released his fifth album, See If I Care. Allan had to fight to keep the title, which he felt epitomized his attitude towards the music business, that he would continue to make the music that he wanted to make regardless of whether the record label chose to back him or people chose to buy the album. See If I Care included his second and third Number One singles, "Tough Little Boys" and "Nothing On But The Radio" "Songs About Rain" was a top 15 hit.
Tough All Over:
In 2003, Allan and his wife, Angela Herzberg, moved to Tennessee from California with their six children (three each from previous marriages). There, they lived a few blocks from Allan's first ex-wife. On October 25, 2004, Angela Herzberg committed suicide after suffering from depression and migraines. Allan initially put his career on hold, but soon turned to music to deal with the loss of his wife. This resulted in 2005's "heart-wrenchingly personal album," Tough All Over He included several songs which he wrote or cowrote, including "Puttin' Memories Away" and "I Just Got Back From Hell," which dealt directly with his grief.
Tough All Over sold over 99,000 copies in its first week, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the magazine's Top Country Albums chart. It was subsequently certified gold by the RIAA as of December 20, 2006, and contained the top 10 singles "Best I Ever Had" (written by Vertical Horizon's Matt Scannell) and "Life Ain't Always Beautiful."
Allan's first Greatest Hits collection was released on March 6, 2007 and debuted the following week at the top of the Billboard Country Charts. One single, "A Feelin' Like That", was released to radio and peaked at #12 on the Billboard Country Charts.
Allan's most recent album, Living Hard, was released on October 23, 2007. The album's lead-off single��s "Watching Airplanes". Allan recorded the music video for "Watching Airplanes" during a live concert at the legendary open air Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO.
Allan's voice is described as "raspy and unpolished." The New York Times describes his music as "elegant, often deadpan songs [that] tend toward manly understatement." His sound is heavily influenced by the Bakersfield scene, especially Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. He prefers this sound to that of the more pop country that is prevalent on country radio, because "the songs have got to have soul, have real meaning....Country music is...what happens during the week. Rock 'n roll is about what happens at the weekend." Because his sound is different from many of the current crop of country singers, Allan has at times had difficulty getting radio to play his singles. He says he has to "walk a real fine line" to "make sure that I get traditional stuff on the radio."