Gary Allan

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Gary Allan
Allan, Gary (2007).jpg
Allan performing in 2007
Background information
Birth nameGary Allan Herzberg
Born (1967-12-05) December 5, 1967 (age 51)
La Mirada, California, United States
Genres Country
  • Vocals
  • Guitar
Years active1996–present

Gary Allan Herzberg (born December 5, 1967) [1] is an American country music artist. Signed to Decca Records in 1996, Allan made his country music debut with the release of his single "Her Man", the lead-off to his gold-certified debut album Used Heart for Sale , which was released in 1996 on Decca. His second album, It Would Be You , followed in 1998. Allan's third album, Smoke Rings in the Dark , was his first one for MCA Nashville (to which he has been signed ever since) and his first platinum album. His next albums, Alright Guy (2001) and See If I Care (2003), both were also certified platinum while Tough All Over (2005) and Greatest Hits (2007) and Living Hard (2007) were all certified gold. His next two albums Get Off on the Pain (2010) and Set You Free (2013) both reached the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums charts, at numbers 2 and 1 respectively.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk music and blues.

Decca Records US/British record label

Decca Records is a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934 by Lewis, along with American Decca's first president Jack Kapp and later American Decca president Milton Rackmil. In 1937, anticipating Nazi aggression leading to World War II, Lewis sold American Decca and the link between the UK and U.S. Decca labels was broken for several decades. The British label was renowned for its development of recording methods, while the American company developed the concept of cast albums in the musical genre. Both wings are now part of the Universal Music Group, which is owned by Vivendi, a media conglomerate headquartered in Paris, France. The US Decca label was the foundation company that evolved into UMG.

Her Man 1996 single by Gary Allan

"Her Man" is a song written by Kent Robbins. Originally recorded by American country music artist Waylon Jennings on his 1990 album The Eagle, it was later covered in 1996 by Gary Allan on his debut album Used Heart for Sale. Allan's version was released in August 1996 as his debut single and as the album's first. His rendition peaked at number 7 on the US country singles charts and number 9 in Canada.


Overall, Allan's nine studio and greatest hits albums have produced 26 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, including the number one hits "Man to Man", "Tough Little Boys" (both 2003), "Nothing On but the Radio" (2004), and "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" (2013). Seven more of his singles have reached the Top 10 on this chart as well: his debut single "Her Man", "It Would Be You" (both at #7), "Right Where I Need to Be" (at #5), "The One" (at #3), "Best I Ever Had" (a cover of a Vertical Horizon song) (at #7), "Life Ain't Always Beautiful" (at #4), and "Watching Airplanes" (#2).

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

Hot Country Songs Weekly chart published by Billboard

Hot Country Songs is a chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States.

Country Airplay is a chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States since January 20, 1990.

Personal life

Gary Allan exits stage in Mescalaro, New Mexico GaryAllanExitsStage.JPG
Gary Allan exits stage in Mescalaro, New Mexico

Gary Allan Herzberg was born and raised in La Mirada, California, [1] to Harley and Mary Herzberg. [2] To ensure that the family would focus on music, Allan's mother insisted that the family's guitars would always remain visible in the home. At age thirteen, Allan began playing in honky tonks with his father. [1] [3] Two years later, he was offered his first recording contract, from A&M Records, but rejected the deal. His parents wanted him to finish his education and his father felt that Allan had yet to develop his own distinctive style. [4] 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 go to school." [4]

La Mirada, California City in California in California

La Mirada is a city in southeast Los Angeles County, California United States, and is one of the Gateway Cities. The population was 48,527 at the 2010 census, up from 46,783 at the 2000 census. In 2006, the city of La Mirada was listed on CNN Money Magazine's "Best Place to Live" list. La Mirada placed 34th on the list, with the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and the Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center as two of its main attributes. It is also the home of Biola University, an evangelical Christian institution of higher education.

A&M Records American historical record label

A&M Records was an American record label founded as an independent company by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Due to the success of the discography A&M released, the label garnered interest and was acquired by PolyGram in 1989 and began distributing releases from Polydor Ltd. from the UK. Throughout its operations, A&M housed well-known acts such as Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Captain & Tennille, Sting, Sergio Mendes, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Bryan Adams, Burt Bacharach, Liza Minnelli, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, Janet Jackson, Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, Elkie Brooks, Carole King, Styx, Extreme, Amy Grant, Joan Baez, the Human League, The Police, CeCe Peniston, Blues Traveler, Soundgarden, Duffy and Sheryl Crow.

After graduating from La Serna High School in Whittier, California, Allan 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. [3]

La Serna High School Whittier, California

La Serna High School is a public high school in Whittier, California that was founded in 1961 and is part of the Whittier Union High School District. The school's colors are crimson, gold and white.

Whittier, California City in California in the United States

Whittier is a city in Southern California located within Los Angeles County, California. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 85,331, reflecting an increase of 1,631 from the 83,680 counted in the 2000 Census, and encompasses 14.7 square miles (38.0 km2). Like nearby Montebello, the city constitutes part of the Gateway Cities. Whittier was incorporated in February 1898 and became a charter city in 1955. The city is named for the poet John Greenleaf Whittier and is home to Whittier College.

George Jones American musician

George Glenn Jones was an American musician, singer and songwriter. He achieved international fame for his long list of hit records, including his best known song "He Stopped Loving Her Today", as well as his distinctive voice and phrasing. For the last twenty years of his life, Jones was frequently referred to as the greatest living country singer. Country music scholar Bill Malone writes, "For the two or three minutes consumed by a song, Jones immerses himself so completely in its lyrics, and in the mood it conveys, that the listener can scarcely avoid becoming similarly involved." Waylon Jennings expressed a similar opinion in his song "It's Alright": "If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones." The shape of his nose and facial features earned Jones the nickname "The Possum."

In 1987, Gary married his first wife, Tracy Taylor. They since divorced. He married model Danette Day on November 28, 1998, in South Carolina and they divorced in June 1999. [5] His third wife, Angela [6] (whom he wed on June 5, 2001), died by suicide on October 25, 2004. [6] [7] [8]

Suicide intentional act of causing ones own death

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; proper media reporting of suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.

Nashville connection

Allan was introduced 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, California, where Allan was already regularly performing. Seal and Hill had asked Allan if they could showcase an unsigned act that they were developing there. Hill had arranged to bring the head of A&R from a major label to the show to see this other act perform. Allan kindly let them use his stage for the event, giving the new act the opening performance slot that night. Hill 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 Allan's performance, and very impressed with his voice. From that point on, Byron Hill began sending Gary songs. Without any serious funding at the time, Hill arranged for Allan to go into Seal's small studio in California to try his vocals on some of existing demo tracks that Byron had sent to Gary from Nashville, Tennessee. Meanwhile, Hill became head of A&R at BNA Entertainment on October 29 of that same year and immediately wanted to sign Allan to BNA, but the then current roster conditions and other circumstances related to the planned restructuring of RCA/BNA Nashville stood in the way. [9]

Byron Hill, is an American songwriter from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Working professionally in Nashville, TN for more than forty years, his songs have been recorded by over 700 Country and Pop artists.

Downey, California City in California

Downey is a city located in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, 13 mi (21 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is considered part of the Gateway Cities. The city is the birthplace of the Apollo space program. It is also the home of the oldest still operational McDonald's restaurant in the world. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 111,779.

Nashville, Tennessee State capital and consolidated city-county in Tennessee, United States

Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017.

From demo to deal

In the meantime, Allan took a job selling cars. He left a demo tape in the glove box of a truck purchased by a wealthy couple. When the couple discovered that he was the singer, they wrote him a check for $12,000. [4] This independent funding allowed Allan to go to Nashville to record some of the songs that were on that early demo tape with Byron Hill as producer. [9] On September 11, 1995, they worked at Javelina Studios for a couple of days on the four songs that Hill immediately showed to labels. Allan's recordings brought serious responses from several labels including Mercury, RCA, and Decca. [9] A meeting was then held at a Nashville hotel among Hill, Allan, and friend of Allan's, who was a program director for a radio station in California. [9]

The meeting was to arrange two showcases in Los Angeles, California, to put Allan 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 Allan, 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. [9] 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 five 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 recorded "It Must Have Been Ol' Santa Claus", as an added track to be packaged on various MCA/Decca Christmas compilations. [9] Then Byron and Gary got a personal call from Harry Connick, Jr., the writer of the song, 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. [9]


Gary Allan performing in 2006 Gary Allan Wiki.jpg
Gary Allan performing in 2006

Used Heart for Sale

His first deal, with Decca Records Nashville, produced his debut studio album Used Heart for Sale in 1996. [1] The album was named "Best of the Month" by Stereo Review. [10] It advanced to the Top 20 of the charts. Its first single, "Her Man" (previously recorded by Waylon Jennings) gave Allan his first Top 10 country hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Other tracks from this album, however, proved less successful.

It Would Be You

Allan's second studio album, It Would Be You , was released in 1998. Although he has been writing songs since his teen years, [4] the singer has not really hesitated to bump his work from his albums in favor of those written by other songwriters that he respects. For this album, Allan replaced one of his songs with "No Judgement Day", written by Allen Shamblin. Even though that song was a hidden acoustic track, radio stations started giving it some heavy airplay. [4] "No Judgement Today" tells the story of a restaurant owner from a small town in Texas, where ex co-workers killed him in search of money, for drugs and alcohol. The album's title track became Allan's second hit to reach the Top 10 on the U.S. country charts, remaining there after 21 weeks of radio play, "way beyond the tenure of most disposable radio hits." [10] In early-1999, Decca Records folded, and when Allan moved to the parent label, MCA Nashville, the It Would Be You album was left in limbo. [3]

Allan was named as "Country Music's Sexy Star" by People Magazine . He also delved into the acting world in the TV mini-series Shake, Rattle, & Roll, in which he would play 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." [4]

Smoke Rings in the Dark

In 1999, Allan released his third studio album Smoke Rings in the Dark . [1] This was an album that he recorded while in the midst of divorcing from his second wife, Versace model Danette Day, after only seven months of marriage. [4] 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." [11] 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." [11] Smoke Rings in the Dark was certified platinum, and it included two successful singles, including its title track.

Alright Guy

The singer's fourth studio album Alright Guy was released in 2001. [1] It contained the singles "The One," "Man of Me," and "Man to Man," the latter of which became his first number one hit on the U.S. Billboard country charts. [12] That same year, Allan married for the third time, to Angela, a flight attendant who he met on an airplane. [13]

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 studio album See If I Care. Allan had to be controversial to keep the album's title. Also, he thought that title had epitomized his attitude towards the music business, and 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. [14] See If I Care included Allan's second and third number one singles with "Tough Little Boys", and "Nothing On but the Radio." [12] [15] "Songs About Rain" was a Top 15 hit.

Tough All Over

In 2003, Allan and his wife, Angela Herzberg, moved to Tennessee from California. On October 25, 2004, Angela committed suicide after suffering from depression and migraines. Allan initially put his career on hold, but soon returned to music to deal with the loss of his wife. This resulted in 2005's "heart-wrenchingly personal album," Tough All Over . [13] 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. [16] Several years later, Gary discussed his wife's suicide on The Oprah Winfrey Show .

Tough All Over sold over 99,000 copies in its first week, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and at No. 1 on Top Country Albums. [16] 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," co-written by country singer Cyndi Thomson (under the name Cyndi Goodman). [17]

Greatest Hits

Gary Allan performing at Harrah's Metropolis 2010 Gary Allan.jpg
Gary Allan performing at Harrah's Metropolis 2010

Allan's first Greatest Hits collection was released on March 6, 2007. A Number One album on the Billboard Top Country Albums charts, the album reprised the greatest hits from his first six albums, as well as two new songs. One of these, titled "A Feelin' Like That", was co-written by David Lee Murphy and Ira Dean (the latter a former member of Trick Pony); the single peaked at No. 12 on the country singles charts.

Living Hard

The album Living Hard was released on October 23, 2007. Serving as its lead-off single was the song "Watching Airplanes," which spent more than thirty weeks on the country charts, where it reached a peak of No. 2 and went No. 1 on the Mediabase Chart. The song's music video was filmed during live concerts, including one at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. Second single "Learning How to Bend" – co-written by Allan – quickly became another hit song, peaking at No. 13. The video was filmed during a live performance at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Following this song is third single "She's So California," which Allan co-wrote with Jaime Hanna (of Hanna-McEuen) and Jon Randall, and it peaked at No. 24, becoming his first single to miss the top 20 since "Lovin' You Against My Will" in 2000.

Get Off on the Pain

Gary Allan Speaking With Fans Gary Allan Speaking With Fans.JPG
Gary Allan Speaking With Fans

A new single, entitled "Today", was released on June 12, 2009. It served as the lead-off single to the album Get Off on the Pain , which was released on March 9, 2010.

The title track was the album's second single. The song debuted at No. 42 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the highest-debuting single of his career. [18]

"Kiss Me When I'm Down" was released as the album's third single. That song debuted at No. 52 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Set You Free

Allan's ninth studio album, Set You Free , was released on January 22, 2013. [19] Its first single, "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)", was released to country radio on September 17, 2012 and reached Number One on the Country Airplay chart on February 9, 2013, giving Allan his fourth Number One country hit and his first since "Nothing On but the Radio" in December 2004. In an interview with Broadway's Electric Barnyard, Allan spoke about co-writing with women for the new release. It was the first time in his career he had done so, and he described it as an interesting experience. [20] The album's second single, "Pieces", was released to country radio on February 25, 2013. The third single, "It Ain't the Whiskey", was released on September 23, 2013.

Hard Way

In March 2015, Allan released a new single entitled "Hangover Tonight". This song would serve as the lead single to his upcoming tenth studio album, entitled Hard Way. [21] In May 2016, the album's second single "Do You Wish It Was Me?" was sent to country radio. The third single is "Mess Me Up", released to country radio in May 2017. None of these three singles, however, had performed as expected on the charts, resulting in EMI Nashville delaying the release of the album. [22]

Political views

In 2003, Allan told CMT that he believed Republican candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be the best governor because he is not driven by money. [23]


Allan's voice is described as "raspy and unpolished." [3] The New York Times describes his music as "elegant, often deadpan songs [that] tend toward manly understatement." [24] 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." [4] Because his sound is different from many of the current crop of country singers, as their sound is considerably more pop or rock, 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." [3]


Studio albums

Compilation albums

Number one singles

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