Leonard Allen

b. 21 March 1900, Montgomery, Alabama, USA, d. 16 July 1985, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Allen was a record company executive who headed the United/States label group in the 50s. During its six-year existence,…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography

b. 21 March 1900, Montgomery, Alabama, USA, d. 16 July 1985, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Allen was a record company executive who headed the United/States label group in the 50s. During its six-year existence, the firm produced some of the biggest R&B hits of the era, among them, Jimmy Forrest’s ‘Night Train’, Tab Smith’s ‘Because Of You’, the Danderliers’ ‘Chop Boom’ and the Four Blazes’ ‘Mary Jo.’ Some of the artists who started with the company were the Staple Singers, the Caravans and Junior Wells. Notable blues singers with the label were Robert Nighthawk, Roosevelt Sykes and Memphis Slim. Allen went to Chicago in 1917, and during the 20s sang in a gospel quartet. From 1928 to the late 40s, he served as an officer in the Chicago Police Department. He was making a living as a tailor in 1951, when he joined the record business by co-founding the United label with Lew Simpkins, who had earlier worked in A&R at Miracle and then Premium, two labels owned by Lee Egalnick. Simpkins died in May 1953, leaving Allen as the sole owner. In 1953 the company added a subsidiary label, States. Allen closed United/States in 1957, subsequently making occasional minor forays into the record business, but essentially subsisting on a tailoring business.