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Terry Allen
Ben Andrews
Gwyn Ashton
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Terry Allen

Terry Allen Terry Allen is a roots-rock- alt country music singer and songwriter, and also a visual artist and a playwright. He was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1943 and brought up in Lubbock, Texas, Buddy Holly's home town.

Terry's mother had been a barrelhouse pianist, of the last musical generation to accompany silent films. She was kicked out of Southern Methodist University in the 1920s. Terry's father, Sled, who was 60 when Terry was born, was the promoter of musical performances in Lubbock. On Fridays he'd hold dances for black people, and on Saturdays, he'd present country acts such as Ernest Tubb, and Hank Williams. He also brought some of the greatest early rock 'n' rollers and blues giants to Lubbock, such as Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Ray Charles "These were the first cosmopolitan shows they ever had in Lubbock where you'd find whites, blacks and Hispanics all at the same place." says Terry.

There's a lot of pressure on Terry Allen. What can one possibly say when forced to shoulder a legacy like that bestowed upon him in the All Music Guide:

"There may be no greater maverick in all of late 20th-century music."
Not to worry, though- Allen delivers his official response in impeccable maverick style.
"Fuck you," he says. Then he bursts out in laughter.

This is the drier-than-Lubbock wit of a man who, in his music as much as in person, always seems to be a couple of steps ahead of everyone else. But as much as he's willing to poke fun at his own uncompromising image, that same deadly sarcasm is exactly what keeps re-enforcing it in a music world that has been absolutely baffled by Allen, who continues to release acclaimed album after acclaimed album of Texas-brand Americana music while earning himself a Guggenheim fellowship and three grants as a visual artist- all the while tossing killer barbs at the record industry and Nashville pop-cowboys in songs like "Gone to Texas."

Of course, if you really want to know how devastating Allen's wit can be, just ask his friends. After one particular weekend of cutting comments at fellow Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen's home, Keen printed a batch of badgesthat proclaimed in bold letters "Fuck Terry". Could he take it as well as he dishes it out? "Oh, I saved up a bunch of 'em," says Allen. "I pass 'em out periodically -just wishful thinking."

Allen is just fine with the "maverick" tag, numbering as he does Lou Reed, Dylan and Hank Williams among his top musical heroes, and having long been associated with the school of Texas rebels that includes his Lubbock compatriots Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely.

Fans have little fear of Allen falling into any slot. While many have discovered him through Keen's cover of "Amarillo Highway" or his collaborations with David Byrne and Lucinda Williams on his 1996 album "Human Remains", those who have spent a lot of time with his work, from the landmark 1979 album "Lubbock (On Everything)" to 1999's "Salivation" have discovered that Allen's roots-rock sound is nothing if not eclectic, while his story-songs about everything from "a one-legged woman on the dance floor" ("Peggy Legg") to "The Wolfman of Del Rio" are often as moving as they are hilarious, but always served up with deadpan delivery.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore calls Terry Allen, whom he first saw perform when both were high-schoolers in Lubbock, "the impetus for me to become a songwriter . . . It wasn't his style that affected me, just the pure fact that he was so brazenly creative."

When drummer Davis McLarty of Joe Ely's band recently had the chance to accompany Allen, he said he felt like bowing down and admitting, "We're not worthy." McLarty calls Allen a "chicken-fried renaissance man . . . the world's best-kept secret."

Terry Allen Discography

  • Gonna California
    (1968-Bole Creek Records-Single)
  • Color Book
    (1968-Bole Creek Records-Single)
  • Juarez
    (1975-Fate Records-Album)
  • Lubbock (on Everything)
    (1978- Fate Records-Double Album)
  • Li>Cajun Roll
    (1979-Fate Records-Single)
    Whatever Happened to Jesus (and Mabilene)?
    (1979-Fate Records-Single)
  • Smokin The Dummy
    (1980-Fate Records-Album)
  • The Arizona Spiritual
    (1983-High Performance- Single)
  • Bloodlines
    (1984-Fate Records-Album)
  • Cocktail Desperado
    (1986-Warner Bros.-Single)
  • Amerasia
    (1987-Fate Records-Film Sound Track Album)
  • Torso Hell (Radio Show)
    (1988-High Performance-Album)
  • Pedal Steel/Rollback (Sound Tracks)
    (1992-Fate Records-Album)
  • The Silent Majority (Terry Allens Greatest Missed Hits)
    (1992-Fate Records-Album)
  • Human Remains
    (1996-Sugar Hill Records-Album)
  • Smokin The Dummy/Bloodlines (Re-Release On One CD)
    (1997-Sugar Hill Records-Album)
  • Salivation
    (1999-Sugar Hill Records-Album)

If you would like to contact Barking Spider, please email J.R. at
or ring the
Barking Spider Hotline on: 023 9243 6267

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