Lee Allen (musician)

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Lee Allen in 1980

Lee Allen (July 2, 1927 – October 18, 1994) was an American tenor saxophone player born in Pittsburg, Kansas.

A key figure in the New Orleans rock and roll scene of the 1950s, Allen recorded with many leading performers of the early rock and roll era. He was semi-retired from music by the late '60s, but in the late '70s, returned to music intermittently until the end of his life.

Biography[edit]

Raised largely in Colorado, Allen played saxophone from his childhood. A combined athletics and music scholarship from Xavier University led to his relocating to New Orleans in 1943.

He fell into the city's thriving music scene, performing or recording with dozens of musicians in the early days of rock music and rhythm and blues. In 1947, he joined the Paul Gayten Band and later, the Dave Bartholomew's Band. Notable are his recording with singers Fats Domino and Lloyd Price; Allen also was the sax soloist on most of Little Richard's epochal hits from 1955 and '56. His own instrumental song "Walkin' With Mr. Lee", on the Ember label, was a minor hit in 1958 due in part to its frequent play on the television program American Bandstand.

By the mid-1960s, Allen saw the city of New Orleans no longer the recording mecca it was for almost a decade so he soon followed drummer Earl Palmer's lead and moved to southern California in 1965, performing only occasionally on tours with Fats Domino. He found work at an aircraft manufacturing plant by day and also fell easily into the healthy and thriving R & B scene by night . The rockabilly revival of the late 1970s found younger musicians seeking Allen's distinctive saxophone. He recorded with the Stray Cats, and was an invaluable mentor and eventual member of The Blasters. Allen recorded with them on all of their albums (excepting the Rollin' Rock debut) from their second and all subsequent releases on Slash/Warner Bros. He also toured with them from the early '80s until he died in 1994. He played three shows in October 1981 with the Rolling Stones: on October first at the Metro Centre (Rockford, Illinois), and on the third and the fourth at Folsom Field (Boulder, Colorado). According to Ian McLagan,[1] who played keyboards with the Stones on the 1981 Tattoo You tour, Allen was so bewildered by playing with the Stones for over 80,000 people in attendance "he [Allen] completely choked up". Audio recordings of the shows confirm McLagan. Allen was replaced by Ernie Watts for the remainder of the tour.

After Allen's death, Blasters member Dave Alvin dedicated the song "Mister Lee" to Allen.

Partial discography[edit]

  • "Chuggin'" b/w "Tic Toc" - Lee Allen And His Band, Ember Records 7" E-1039X (Canada)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ian MacLagan, 'All The Rage', November 1998

External links[edit]