Sandy Allen, keyboard player for Chris
Duartes mid-80s group the Bad Boys, died in November of '98 in Austin,
Texas. John Jordan was in the Bad Boys too, and together the three of them
also backed up Junior Medlow. When the Chris Duarte Group came here recently,
I asked Chris and John if they would share some thoughts on their former
bandmate, Sandy Allen.
Chris: I was
real sad when he went down, for his family and his great kids.
John: He had
a great family. He took care of a lot of kids, took them under his wing.
It was a nasty shock. It really was. Deby and I were in Austin and Glen
Rexache, another one of the Bad Boys, called me up and said Sandy was real
sick and they didnt think he was gonna come out of the hospital.
He said at 8:00 everyone who knows him is gonna stop whatever theyre
doing and pray. At 8:00 we turned off the music, lit a candle and sent out
positive vibrations. He didnt survive the weekend. Hell be missed,
he really will.
How did Sandy join up with the Bad
was a prominent jazz player around Austin. He was always working - hotel
work and the jazz clubs around town. He also led a jazz trio and backed
up different singers, mainly Pam Hart, a really good jazz vocalist in Austin.
He was doing that in the years before he died, too.
Hodges, our drummer, had done a pick-up gig with Sandy. At the time, the
Bad Boys were mainly Paul Babbs, Jeff, and me as a trio. Jeff said we should
bring Sandy in and check out his stuff. And so we brought in the keyboard
player. It was real cool and a lot of learning!
John: He was
in the Bad Boys before I was. He was in the group, along with Donny Silverman,
a sax player. I came along in 88. After awhile, the Bad Boys started
working with BBA, kind of a jazz booking agency. They would book Beto y
Los Fairlanes, Junior Medlow & The Bad Boys, The Vanguards. Sandy was
working there and he would book the Bad Boys - so he became a very, very
valuable member of the group! He got us good gigs! Before Sandy they didnt
have keyboards in the Bad Boys.
He brought that in and really changed everything a lot.
sure did! Sandy used to play an old Rhodes DX7, his main axe - old, old,
old! I learned so much off him. How to play with a piano player, to not
step on the chords and be in the same harmonic range. We used to take turns
comping and stuff. I learned phrasing too, and just listening to him. How
to get thorny in chord changes, change tonality, just going in and out of
chords a certain way. Listening to him playing different chords over a 12-bar
blues form. It was a real learning experience with Sandy.
John: He was
such a great player! He taught me about voicing, moving keyboard voicings
around. He would get out there! He had a synthesizer that had a strange
sound on it. He had a lot to do with the arrangements and stuff, as keyboard
players typically do. Hed written some jazz stuff and a couple of
songs in the Bad Boys that we did, too. Theres at least 1 song he
wrote on that Bad Boys record, My Sweet Lady, I think.
he wrote My Sweet Lady. That was a real unique song! I dug it.
I was really lucky to play with older musicians when I was younger. Thats
why I think I learned a lot faster, not that I was some prodigy or something,
but I was blessed to be around older, talented musicians. He helped me out
so much, thats what I dug about him.
Had you played together since the Bad
I would go down to jam sessions, jazz jam sessions, and play with him down
there and check him out.
sat in with him, too. The last time was at a benefit for Junior Medlow at
Antones a couple of years ago. Medlow loved him. I called him up and
he came out and played. It was kind of a semi-reunion because Chris was
was always good to see him. I will miss Sandy a lot.
John: He was
a great guy. He really was. God bless Sandy Allen!