b. 1913, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, d. 24 April 1989, Stockton, California, USA. As well as being a ballad singer with a rich baritone voice, Allen was good-looking and had a romantic image. He studied at a conservatory in Cincinnati, before joining the sweet and sophisticated Hal Kemp Band in 1933, and featuring on the band’s broadcasts over WGN radio from Chicago’s Black Hawk Cafe. His powerful vocal style contrasted well with the breathy, intimate delivery of Kemp’s premier singer, Skinnay Ennis. When Ennis left the band in 1938, Allen replaced him in the top spot. While with Kemp, Allen featured on many of the band’s hits, including ‘Goodnight Lovely Lady’, ‘Lost’, ‘Gloomy Sunday’, ‘Goodnight My Love’, ‘What Will I Tell My Heart?’, ‘Where Or When’, ‘Whispers In The Dark’, ‘Where In The World’, ‘You’ve Got Me Crying Again’, ‘Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me’ and ‘It All Comes Back To Me Now’. When Kemp died in a car accident in December 1940, Allen assumed the leadership for a short time, but the band soon broke up. Later, he took over Vince Patti’s Cleveland Band for a time, proving himself a capable leader with an outgoing style. He also recorded with Carmen Cavallaro (‘I Have But One Heart’), Isham Jones (‘How Many Tears Must Fall?’/‘She Picked It Up In Mexico’) and the Hoagy Carmichael Orchestra (‘Somewhere In Via Roma’). In 1944 he joined Tommy Dorsey as a vocalist, before serving in the US Forces from 1945-46. Afterwards he spent some time as a freelance singer, and then retired from showbusiness, and settled in Encino, California, where he eventually built up a reputation as an excellent woodworker. Shortly before his death in 1989, Allen collaborated with arranger-pianist Keith Ingham on a new album of Hal Kemp hits entitled Easy To Remember.
Share this page