Gary Allan

Gary Allan

Essential Albums

  • Tough All Over

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About Gary Allan

Coming up playing bars in California, Gary Allan naturally connected to the no-nonsense Bakersfield sound, and by the time he started making records, he had filtered that sound through a very personal approach to become an important practitioner of neotraditional sounds in the ’90s and onward. Allan, born in La Mirada, CA, in 1967, had a musical family and was gigging with his father from the age of 13. His first album, 1996’s Used Heart for Sale, brought his soulful, lived-in vocals to songs that combined a vintage vibe with contemporary touches, and it gave him a country Top 10 hit with “Her Man.” His next few albums were increasingly successful, with his character-filled voice plumbing new emotional depths as he blended the old and new in his music, and 1999’s Smoke Rings In the Dark became the first in a string of platinum records. Allan’s world was rocked by his wife’s suicide in 2004, and the next year’s Tough All Over was a dark, intense album that reflected his trauma. It was also his first LP to top the country charts. Starting with 2007’s Living Hard, Allan began writing more of his own songs, and in the process, he edged his sound forward, achieving a bit more of a modern feel without losing touch with his roots.

La Mirada, CA, United States
December 5, 1967

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