Saturday, October 1, 2011


Maybe it's happened to you at one time or another. You have a Forrest Gump type moment, where you find yourself in the presence of some sort of celebrity, or someone significant for some other reason, and just kind of take a step back, and try to wrap your head around the situation. It's happened to me an a number of occasions over the years and I've always prided myself on keeping my cool, like it's no big deal. There was one time though, that I became a gushing fan boy.

A friend of mine was one of the founding members of the early Paladins, when they were a four piece. In the late eighties, when he was no longer in the band, but still tight with them, he took me to a show they were playing, opening for the Blasters. After the show, he took me backstage. Now, I was really familiar with the Blasters and had seen them on multiple occasions. All was going well, "Hi, enjoyed the show Phil,..." and so on. Then, lurking in the corner I spotted Lee Allen. The Lee Allen; the sax player all over early rock n' roll and New Orleans R&B classics. I was in the presence of royalty. And I was stinking drunk. I don't remember much of the conversation, but it was something like, "Man, I can't believe it! You're the man! You're on Little Richard's stuff,.. Fats Domino! All that New Orleans stuff!" He just took it all in. I've tried to recall more of the event over the years, and he was either friendly, or just plain tolerant. One thing I do remember is that he didn't try to get away, nor did he make me feel like the knucklehead I probably was.

If you're wondering why a sax player would make someone a stammering goon, check out the profiles below. In a nutshell, he was in the New Orleans session band. Much like the Wrecking Crew or the house bands at Sun, Stax, or Motown, the group that he played with (which often included Allen Toussaint and legendary drummer Earl Palmer) had a distinct sound. So much so that acts were flown to New Orleans to record with them. It also bears mentioning that the brand of New Orleans R&B they laid down was part of what morphed with traditional Jamaican music to become ska. Yeah, royalty.

Lee Allen - Walkin' With Mr. Lee mp3 at Beware of the Blog
Lee Allen solos:
Little Richard - Good Golly Miss Molly mp3 at SMU
Little Richard - Lucille mp3 at On the Spur of the Moment
Professor Longhair - In the Night mp3 at DJ Perro
Fats Domino - I'm In Love Again mp3 at Bill Capes
Shirley & Lee - Feel So Good mp3 at
LP download:
Lee Allen - Down on Bourbon St at Be Bop Wino This LP includes all of his "Walking With Mr. Lee" album and a handful of singles. (Alternate link with high resolution scan of cover and liner notes here.)
The Blasters with Lee Allen - So Long Baby Goodbye at YouTube
The Blasters with Lee Allen - I'm Shakin' at YouTube
Lee Allen - Profile at Offbeat
Lee Allen - Bio & partial discography at Black Cat Rockabilly
Lee Allen - Profile & interview at Taming the Saxophone


Anonymous said...

I came across this fine album on Be Bop Wino's blog a while ago. I like all the additional information, links and little story! Major props to you sir! Gonna check out the rest of your blog ...

Tom G. said...

Thanks. Hope you run into other stuff you like. (If you visit Be Bop Wino's, I already know you have taste!)