Lee Allen, born on July 2, 1927, in Pittsburg, Kansas, was a prominent American tenor saxophonist who played a significant role in shaping the sound of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues music in the 1950s and 1960s. Known for his powerful sound and soulful playing style, Allen left an indelible mark on the music industry as a session musician and solo artist.
Allen’s family relocated to New Orleans when he was a child, immersing him in the city’s rich musical culture. He began playing saxophone at an early age, and by the time he was a teenager, he was already performing with local bands. Allen attended the Grunewald School of Music, where he studied under the guidance of Professor Vincente.
In the early 1950s, Lee Allen’s career began to take off as he started working as a session musician for Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio in New Orleans. He played on numerous iconic recordings by legendary artists such as Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Lloyd Price. Some of his most memorable contributions include saxophone solos on hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Ain’t It a Shame,” and “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.”
Apart from his work as a session musician, Allen also pursued a solo career. His instrumental hits “Walkin’ With Mr. Lee” (1958) and “Cat Walk” (1959) showcased his distinctive sound and impressive skills as a saxophonist, earning him a dedicated fan base and further establishing his presence in the music industry.
During the 1960s, as rock ‘n’ roll music evolved, Allen continued to perform and record with various artists, but his career experienced a downturn. However, in the 1980s, he experienced a resurgence, as he joined the Blasters, a rockabilly band based in Los Angeles. This collaboration revitalized his career, allowing him to perform for a new generation of fans and further solidifying his status as a saxophone legend.
Lee Allen passed away on October 18, 1994, but his contributions to rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues music continue to resonate with fans and fellow musicians. As an innovative and influential saxophonist, Allen’s powerful sound and soulful playing have left an enduring impact on the music world, ensuring his place in history as a true music pioneer.
Last updated 3/18/2023.