January 15, 2011
How To Get My Ex Back But He Is Dating /features/100-greatest-men/”>100 Greatest Men: The Complete List
He started off as a new traditionalist with only his raspy voice making him distinctive. But when he embraced his California country roots, he became one of the defining male vocalists of the early 21st Century.
Gary Allan Herzberg hails from California. He grew up in a musical family, and by age thirteen, he was playing honky-tonks at night with his father. His talent was evident even at that young age, and at age fifteen, he turned down his first opportunity at a major label record deal, opting to finish school instead.
He quickly became a big draw on the local concert scene, playing to overcrowded rooms but refusing to move up to bigger venues that wouldn’t allow him to play the traditional country covers that made up a big chunk of his set. He cut some demos in a small California studio in the early nineties, and the tape caught the interest of BNA Records in Nashville. But restructuring at the label prevented him from being signed.
So Allan continued with his day job: selling cars. In an incredible act of fortune, he left a demo tape in a car that was then sold to a wealthy couple. They enjoyed the tape so much that they gave him $12,000, which he then used to make professional demos in Nashville. Soon, there was interest from several major labels, but Decca offered him a contract first, so he signed with them.
He was an immediate critical success, though radio would bite on only the lead singles of his first two studio albums. “Her Man” from his 1996 debut Used Heart For Sale and the title track from his 1998 follow-up It Would Be You each peaked at #7. Both albums were heavy on the traditionalism but didn’t fully embrace the California country sound that he’d fully explore on his third album.
Smoke Rings in the Dark, released in 1999, struck a deep chord with country music listeners. The title track, reminiscent of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, only made it to #12, but it sold him more records than his previous two top ten hits combined. As the album powered its way to platinum, radio finally embraced Allan, as the final single from the set, “Right Where I Need to Be”, became his first top five hit.
Thus began Allan’s hit streak at country radio, which continued unabated despite him embracing a sound that was nothing like the rest of country radio. His next two albums, Alright Guy and See If I Care, produced three #1 hits between them, but as the final chart-topper “Nothin’ On But the Radio” was climbing the charts, tragedy struck.
On October 24, 2004, Allan’s wife Angela committed suicide. The tragedy devastated Allan, who briefly suspended his music career in the wake of the event. When he returned to the studio, he crafted his masterpiece to date, Tough All Over, which fully explored his anger and grief over his wife’s death. Interestingly, the album’s lynch pin was a cover of the Vertical Horizon pop hit, “Best I Ever Had.” The lyrics of love lost took on new dimensions with Allan’s haunting performance.
Since that landmark album in 2005, Allan has continued to be a regular presence at country radio. A subsequent hits package and the 2007 studio album Living Hard were both certified gold. “Watching Airplanes”, from the latter set, is his most recent top ten single, but additional selections from that set and the 2010 release Get Off On the Pain, have reached the top twenty. He is currently touring the country in support of this album.
- Smoke Rings in the Dark, 1999
- Right Where I Need to Be, 2000
- Nothin’ On But the Radio, 2004
- Best I Ever Had, 2005
- Life Ain’t Always Beautiful, 2006
- Smoke Rings in the Dark, 1999
- Tough All Over, 2005
- Greatest Hits, 2007
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