Gene Allen

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For the up-to-date scoop on the latest activities of rock guitar wrangler Gene Allen, why not check with his former bandleader, Lizzy Borden? The temptation might be to write "the notorious Lizzy Borden,"…
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For the up-to-date scoop on the latest activities of rock guitar wrangler Gene Allen, why not check with his former bandleader, Lizzy Borden? The temptation might be to write "the notorious Lizzy Borden," but there is only one person by this name who is notorious, and that is the original axe-whacking, parent-killing lass. The heavy metal bandleader's obscurity in relation to the original Lizzie Borden is solid proof that murderers become more famous than musicians, with a few notable exceptions, such as Elvis Presley and Mozart. One online search engine lists some 18,000 entries about Lizzie Borden, of which a mere five relate to the band.

In one of these articles, an interviewer asks Borden, "What exactly happened with Gene Allen?" Quoth Lizzy: "Who knows?" Well, perhaps it is difficult for a busy Borden to keep tabs on Allen's activities, particularly the team-up with Kane Roberts, formerly with Alice Cooper, that can be heard on the Phoenix Downs album entitled Under a Wild Sky. After all, this project was produced in Phoenix, AZ, and Borden hangs out in Hollywood. Much more than just a desert separates these two locales, at least culturally. And in terms of culture, 2000 was also a pretty hectic year for Borden, who launched a comeback for the Lizzie Borden band right around the time Allen and Roberts were banging heads in the studio.

Reviving a heavy metal group some 15 years after it was popular is no easy task, requiring a great deal of promotion among the many responsibilities. Leading, needless to say, to more interviewers, with questions such as this one: "Since we're talking guitarists, what ever happened to Gene Allen? Is he still selling gear at the Guitar Center on Sunset Strip?" Quoth Borden: "I have no idea." This time, there is a kernel of information in the question, if not the answer. Allen's guitar style in the Borden days, and seemingly forever thereafter, was an amalgam of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Blue Öyster Cult riffs. This means he would surely be able to make all the customers feel comfortable, and would feel right at home himself in a big city music store such as the Guitar Center.

Working in music stores has provided many great players with regular incomes, so Allen has nothing to feel ashamed of. It is Borden who seems somewhat embarrassed in not keeping up with an important colleague who helped write such classic material as the scrumptious "Flesh Eater" and the sympathetic "Psychopath." Borden explains that it is not indifference, just the sheer number of guitar players one deals with as the front "it" in a band such as this. Is there a poem about this? "Lizzie Borden needs an axe/For each solo, 40 tracks/And when Gene Allen is all done/Alex Nelson does 41."