The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will honor songwriter Allen Reynolds during the quarterly series ‘Poets and Prophets: Legendary Country Songwriters.’ The program, which honors songwriters who have made a significant contribution to country music history, will take place October 6 at 1:30 p.m. at the Museum’s Ford Theater. The in-depth interview will include recordings, photos and film clips from the museum’s Frist Library and Archive.
As a songwriter and producer, Allen has helped shape country music for more than three decades. His songwriting credits include “Five o’Clock World,” “Dreaming My Dreams with You,” “We Should Be Together,” and “Ready for the Times to Get Better.” He has produced albums for Shawn Camp, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, Hal Ketchum and Kathy Mattea. He also helped launch the careers of Garth Brooks and Don Williams.
Born in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Allen grew up in Memphis. During his freshmen year at Rhodes College, he met Dickey Lee. The two became friends and began writing and performing together. Dickey signed a recording contract with Sun Records, which led to meeting Cowboy Jack Clement.
When Cowboy Jack Clement joined RCA Records in 1960, he signed Allen who had moderate success. A few years later, Allen and Dickey followed Cowboy Jack to Beaumont, Texas where he was opening a studio with Bill Hall. The pair wrote “I Saw Linda Yesterday,” which went on to be a Top 10 pop hit for Dickey.
In 1964, Allen headed back to Memphis and took a job as a banker, working as a writer for Screen Gems Publishing Company by night. His job as a banker inspired “Five o’Clock World” which became a Top 5 hit for The Vogues in 1965. Allen and Dickey teamed up to start Gold Dust Music publishing company and represented songwriter Bob McDill. By 1970, he had left the bank and moved his family to Nashville.
Once in Music City, Allen joined Cowboy Jack Clement’s publishing company, Jack Music. A few years later, he was managing Jack Music and Cowboy Jack’s new label, JMI Records. He signed Don Williams and produced his first two albums.
At the beginning of his career as a producer, Allen continued to write and had cuts by Johnny Russell, Waylon Jennings and Don Williams. JMI Records closed in 1975 and Allen went on to be an independent producer. Crystal Gayle was one of his first clients. Together they recorded 10 albums—which produced 17 No. 1 singles.
In 1989, Allen started working with Garth Brooks. To date, he has produced every album Garth has released with the exception of 1999’s pop departure Garth Brooks … In the Life of Chris Gaines. The albums have collectively sold more than any other country artist in history.
Allen was the longtime owner of Jack’s Tracks Recording Studio in Nashville. Garth bought the studio from him in 2010 and in 2012, on his 50th birthday, Garth renamed Jack’s Tracks as Allentown Records, in honor of Allen. Allen has won four CMA Awards, five ACM Awards and numerous BMI Awards. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000.