Gary Allan - Biography

© MCA Nashville

Gary Allan Overview

After years of working the honky tonk circuit in his home state of California, Gary Allan, burst onto the national country music scene in 1996 with the release of his gold-certified debut album, Used Heart for Sale. His sound was a mix of traditional and contemporary, and he brought a fresh edge and originality that proved an immediate hit with country fans. A tireless and captivating performer with an uncompromising and honest attitude about the music he makes, Allan has carved out a wonderful career that shows no signs of slowing down.

Origins and Early Musical Successes

Born Gary Allan Herzberg on December 5, 1967 in La Mirada, California, music was always a big part of Allan’s life growing up. His mother insisted that the family’s guitars always remained out in the open to encourage his musical exploration. He was just thirteen when he began playing in the local honky tonks with his father. A&M Records took notice of young Allan’s talents and offered him a recording contract when he was just fifteen. His parents supported his musical aspirations, but they insisted he get complete high school before jumping full-time into music, so A&M’s offer was rejected.

After high school, Allan continued performing music in the local clubs with his band, the Honky Tonk Wranglers. In 1993, he was introduced by talent scout, Jim Seal, to producer/songwriter, Byron Hill, who brought in an A&R person from a major label to see Allan perform.

Everyone was knocked out by his performance, so Hill encouraged and helped Allan create some demo recordings that could be circulated through the industry.

Allan’s Debut Album Goes Gold

Immediately after signing with Decca Records in 1996, Allan went into the studio to begin work on his debut album, Used Heart for Sale.

Hill co-produced the album with Decca producer Mark Wright. Allan’s first single, “Her Man,” a song previously recorded by Waylon Jennings for his 1990 album, The Eagle, climbed all the way to No. 7. The album’s next three singles failed to crack the top 40, but Used Heart for Sale still climbed to No. 20 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart and was certified gold.

Allan released his sophomore album, It Would Be You, in May of 1998, and it spawned three hit singles, including the title track, which hit No. 7. The next two singles were “No Man in His Wrong Heart” and “I’ll Take Today.” During that time, Allan dabbled in acting, landing roles in the television mini-series, Shake, Rattle and Roll, as well as a part in the CBS television show, Pensacola – Wings of Gold.

Allan’s Third Album Goes Platinum

After Decca Records folded, Allan moved over to MCA, along with fellow Decca label mate, Lee Ann Womack. He released his third album, Smoke Rings in the Dark, in 1999. The album saw Allan incorporating a richer and more orchestrated sound, and the result proved successful as all three of the album’s singles cracked Billboard’s top 40. The album’s title track climbed to No. 12, while “Lovin’ You Against My Will” hit No.

37. Allan achieved his highest chart position to date with the album’s third single, “Right Where I Need to Be,” which climbed to No. 5. Smoke Rings in the Dark peaked at No. 9 on its way to platinum status.

Allan’s Career Skyrockets

Allan saw his career really take off with his next three albums. In 2001, he released his second consecutive platinum album, Alright Guy, which spawned three consecutive hit singles, including “Man of Me” (No. 18), “The One” (No. 3) and his first No. 1 country hit, “Man to Man,” which also crossed-over to No. 25 on the pop charts. Alright Guy climbed to No. 4 on Billboard’s country Albums chart and No. 39 on the all-genre chart. He released is fifth studio album, See If I Care, in 2003, and the major hits kept coming. “Tough Little Boys” became his second consecutive No.

1 hit, while “Songs about Rain” hit No. 12. “Nothing On but the Radio” became his third No. 1 hit.

Allan released his sixth studio album, Tough All Over, in 2005, and though the album only achieved gold status, it became his first No. 1 album. Two of its singles were top 10 hits, including the Vertical Horizon cover, “Best I Ever Had” (No. 7) and “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” (No. 4). After Allan’s next album, Greatest Hits, shot to No. 1, he returned with his seventh studio album, the gold-certified, Living Hard, which spawned three more hit singles, including “Watching Airplanes” (No. 2), “Learning How to Bend” (No. 13) and “She’s So California” (No. 24). His eighth studio album, Get Off on the Pain, is due in early 2010.

Most Popular Gary Allan Songs

  • “Man to Man”
  • “Tough Little Boys”
  • “Nothing on but the Radio”
  • “Watching Airplanes”
  • “Best I Ever Had”

Gary Allan Discography

  • Used Heart for Sale
  • It Would Be You
  • Smoke Rings in the Dark
  • Alright Guy
  • See If I Care
  • Tough All Over
  • Greatest Hits
  • Living Hard
  • Get Off on the Pain