Unlike many famous musicians, whose parents frowned at their sneaking away to strum a guitar or pen lyrics in a notebook, country singer Gary Allan had parental support from the very beginning.
“Thankfully music was very open and appreciated in our house,” Allan said, born and raised in southern California and professionally goes by his first and middle names.
His parents, Mary and Harley Herzberg, famously insisted that the family’s guitars and amps would always remain visible inside the home to encourage both a love and appreciation for music. A guitar, Allan said, was never far away from his inquisitive fingers.
“Dad always made sure our instruments and amps were always left out where (my brother and I) could see them,” Allan said. “His philosophy was: If we could see them, we would play (them). If they were in a closet, we would not play as often. He was right. We played every day.”
His parents also made sure great country records were always on the family’s stereo turntable.
“My dad was always playing great country records by Merle, Buck, Waylon, Willie and George — those guys became my heroes,” Allan said.
With that in mind, it only made sense that Allan would soon follow in the footstep of those men by becoming a country music artist himself. But his parents offered him sage advice early on his career. They knew their son worshipped Merle Haggard. They told him not to emulate Merle. Forge your own path, they told him.
“I was offered my first recording contract at age 15. My mom and dad refused to let me sign. My dad wanted me to find my own voice and not imitate my heroes. I was quite angry with him (at the time), but again, he was right. I eventually found my own voice and, a few years later, signed a recording contract (with Decca Records in 1996). I am forever grateful to my parents for their unwavering support and belief in me.”
Even better for Allan, he would eventually get to meet and share the stage with the legendary Merle Haggard.
“I (wish) I could have worked on a project with him,” he said. “His body of work is timeless. These guys are my heroes, and I love being compared to them.”
Allan’s debut came with his first single, “Her Man,” from his first album, “Used Heart for Sale.” His first platinum album would be “Smoke Rings in the Dark.” Overall, his nine studio (and greatest hits) albums have produced 26 singles, including the No. 1 hits “Man to Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Nothing On but the Radio” and “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain).”
Many of these songs will be performed live when Allan visits Downstream Casino at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 9. Allan is launching the casino’s 10th anniversary outdoor concert series for 2018.
“It is always great to go back to (Joplin) where you have a strong fan base,” he said. “We recently revamped the show and started doing a new set list. We have a mix of all the hits, some fan-favorite album cuts and a few of my favorite covers. I feel it is a good mix, and the fans seem to be enjoying it. We are playing several songs that we have not played in years. We are having fun, and that is what it is all about.”
Allan has been described as a “modern-day outlaw,” in part because of his love for old-style country music. He certainly doesn’t shy away from that moniker.
“I have always tried to stay true to myself,” he said with a chuckle. “Some people view that as being an ‘outlaw.’ I view it as just being me.”
Details: For tickets, go to https://downstream.yapsody.com/.
Gary Allan will be in concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, at Downstream Casino’s Outdoor Venue, the casino’s 10th anniversary of the ongoing outdoor concert series. ZZ Top will play on July 1, and comedian Ron White will be on stage on July 28.