"WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

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    Default "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Lee Allen was a “first call” session player for many years and played solos and background sax lines for many artists. These recording are just a sampling of some of the solos that he played on Top 40 hits.

    The following links cover a lot of his life story, interviews and recording credits;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Allen_(musician)

    https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-lee-allen

    http://www.rockabilly.nl/references/.../lee_allen.htm

    http://www.offbeat.com/articles/mast...sic-lee-allen/

    http://www.billboard.com/artist/1521...llen/biography

    http://www.allmusic.com/artist/lee-a...142490/credits

    Born in Pittsburg, Kansas, on July 2, 1926, and schooled in New Orleans, Lee Allen’s tenor style was a major factor in the sound of the New Orleans R&B hits of the 1950s. His solos were etched in the 78 and 45 rpm records of Fats Domino, Lloyd Price, Little Richard, Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith, Smiley Lewis, Shirley & Lee, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Amos Milburn, Charles Brown, Etta James, and many more.

    Allen was a very important member of the studio band at Cosimo’s. His solos appeared on hundreds of Crescent City classics. In 1958, Allen also recorded his own instrumental record on Ember titled “Walking With Mr. Lee” which charted at #54. However, it was his hard-driving solos on the Little Richard and Fats Domino hits that inspired a new generation of sax players in the 1950s and 1960s. His unique and distinctive tone is still respected and often copied to this day.

    In 1965 he left the road touring with Fats Domino and moved to the West Coast to take a job in an aeronautics factory; however, in 1975 Lee Allen was back with Fats Domino. Allen performed until his death from lung cancer in 1994. He was a member of The Blasters, a Los Angeles-based band of rockers.



    Remembering Lee Allen by Billy Vera

    "It would be difficult to find anyone else besides Lee Allen who deserves the title of “The quintessential rock ‘n’ roll tenor sax soloist.” In pure terms of hundreds of rock ‘n’ roll classics he played on, Lee outshined even the likes of King Curtis, Plas Johnson, Sam “the Man” Taylor and Big Al Sears.

    Born on July 2, 1926, in Pittsburgh, Kansas, and raised in New Orleans, Lee came up at a time when any black musician who aspired to the tenor saxophone had to perform, verbatim, Illinois Jacquet’s solo from the Lionel Hampton 1942 hit “Flying Home.” That one record changed forever the way the instrument was approached.

    Unlike many of the “honkers & screamers,” such as Big Jay McNeely, Red Prysock and Joe Houston, Lee developed a more melodic version of Jacquet’s basic style. Perhaps this was due to the highly developed sense of melody inherent in New Orleans music. Allen could honk with the best, but his own style was filled with sexy cajoling, teasing slides and barks.

    While a student at Xavier University, he was discovered by local bandleader Paul Gayten, who had been responsible, in 1947, for the first hit recordings of the R&B era by a New Orleans artist, “True (You Don’t Love Me).” Paul introduced Lee to the burgeoning recording scene and ultimately Lee became part of the house band at the famed Cosimo’s recording studio. Other members included baritone saxist Alvin “Red” Tyler and drummer Earl Palmer. This ensemble was the rhythmic force behind such New Orleans rock ‘n’ roll classics as Shirley & Lee’s “Let The Good Times Roll,” Smiley Lewis’s “I Hear You Knockin’”, Professor Longhair’s “Tipitina,” Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s “Ain’t Got No Home” and Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu.” Lee and the crew also played on some great-yet-little-known items of the period by Etta James, Amos Milburn, Richard Berry and Charles Brown.

    Although Lee had long played with Fats Domino and many have believed that Lee took the solos on Domino’s records, Fats actually used his road band on most of his recordings and the solos were usually by Herb Hardesty rather than Lee.

    Lee Allen’s greatest legacy may be the wonderful solos he took on Little Richard’s greatest hits, “Tutti Frutti,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “Good Golly Miss Molly” and many more. Those tenor sax breaks contributed as much to the mayhem of those recordings as did the psychotic vocalizing of Richard himself.

    Earl Palmer defected to Los Angeles in 1957 to become the most successful studio drummer of his generation, but Lee stuck around New Orleans a little longer, cutting a hit of his own in 1958, “Walking With Mr. Lee,” a great dance favorite on American Bandstand.

    Unable to produce a follow-up hit, Lee took to the road with Fats until 1965, then following Palmer to LA. Not the greatest sight-reader, Lee did not find the success in the studios that Earl had, so he went to work in one of the many airplane factories in Southern California while performing at night with one of the organ/sax combos so popular at the time. In the seventies, he returned to Fats’ touring band full-time and, in the next decade, was rediscovered by local roots bands, such as The Blasters and The Stray Cats. He occasionally sat in with my band, The Beaters.

    The last time I saw him in good health was at the funeral of our mutual friend Paul Gayten. When Lee was dying of cancer, I went to visit him at the rest home where he was staying. It was heartbreaking to see this once-vital man wasting away and going in-and-out of lucidity. I was glad, however, to be able to pay my last respects to a man who was both a hero and a friend".

    Discography:
    1956 Honkers and Screamers—Savoy
    1958 Walkin' with Mr. Lee—Collectables

    In the 1950s, J and M Studio in New Orleans put together one of the finest session bands in the history of Rock & Roll and R&B. Although various musicians were involved over the years, the main band consisted of: Lee Allen on tenor sax, Alvin “Red” Tyler on baritone sax, Earl Palmer on drums, Edgar Blanchard on guitar, Justin Adams on guitar, Huey “Piano” Smith on piano, James Booker on piano, and Frank Fields on bass. Regulars also included; Doctor John, Salvador Doucette, Wendell Duconge, Clarence Ford, Edward Frank, Herb Hardesty, Ernest McLean and Allen Toussaint.

    Lee Allen played a Buescher 400 “Top Hat & Cane” tenor with a Brilhart HR m/p (white bite plate) on the Little Richard and Fats Domino sessions. Alvin “Red” Tyler (played baritone sax on most of the sessions with Lee Allen) told me that Lee used plastic reeds on the early sessions and that Lee’s lower lip would bleed once in a while if the session went on for hours. Lee Allen subsequently used a Berg Larsen 120/0 after his Buescher was stolen. A 1982 photo shows Allen playing a Selmer MKVI with a Brilhart m/p again. He also used a Selmer “D” hard rubber according to an interview. He did not care for metal m/p’s.


    1. LONG TALL SALLY-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Su1P1b85mI

    2. ALL AROUND THE WORLD—LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN2G861jvfQ

    3. I’M IN LOVE AGAIN-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMl1FXyxeBQ

    4. POOR ME-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29AaZplO5yg

    5. LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL-SHIRLEY AND LEE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYwLKX-lKYw

    6. READY TEDDY-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8615pX_XCk

    7. RIP IT UP-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEXBp4S4g6I

    8. SLIPPIN’ AND SLIDIN’-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp05_vFt6z8

    9. THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZQbe4PlnPg

    10. TUTTI-FRUTTI-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHN7ji4Y3ek

    11. BABY FACE-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mQZj6XfWZU

    12. IT’S YOU I LOVE-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUZbxrTrDkc

    13. I WANT YOU TO KNOW-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnYZ-B8FBfM

    14. JENNY, JENNY-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcvZatyRH7A

    15. LUCILLE-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqYy_lOBo7I

    16. MISS ANN-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BghdHABk-l8

    17. SEND ME SOME LOVIN’-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ew6dI8emPE

    18. VALLEY OF TEARS-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g54IBbr7hy0

    19. WAIT AND SEE-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkdgcpYBHOU

    20. GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI-7bx8Zyx0

    21. THE BIG BEAT-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P61RXyLAk5I

    22. BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON-LITTLE RICHARD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FPnOVdzM34

    23. NATURAL BORN LOVER-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3XXz7lq4Ic

    24. TELLING LIES-FATS DOMINO

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcfNf_4e3pA

    25. WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE (Pop Chart Peaks: Cash Box 46, Music Vendor 52, Billboard 54)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcmFo4eznGw

    There are many more solo recordings (45rpm's) by Lee Allen and other recordings by artists that feature his solos. Feel free to post them here so we can trace more of his recording history. Thanks.

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Thanks, John! This is great! My dad played "Walkin' With Mr. Lee" for me in 1963 and I was hooked. I learned as much of it as I could on an old no-name metal clarinet! Believe me, all I got was the head...

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Another great post from John!

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Hey thanks much! More to come in time. Just trying to get some older classic sounds and styles out to a new generation And a walk down memory lane for some of us

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Great stuff, John. That opening post should be turned into an article !

    Here are a few more that come to mind:

    Paul Gayten - Creole Alley
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ6zEC6JTy4

    Etta James - Tough Lover (1956; Modern 998)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbkb1ZCGycY

    Ernie K-Doe - Tuff Enuff (rel. Jan. 1959; Ember 1050-B)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eyKo1_pEZs

    The Blasters - So Long Baby, Goodbye (1981)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUHPFgwn9d0

    The next are not single recordings but video clips from the early '80s. Two are with the Blasters, and the last one is my personal favourite Lee Allen recording, on tour with Domino. It sounds very simple, until you try and do it yourself…

    The Blasters - So Long Baby, Goodbye (live, 1982)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZh61kVd-Zk

    The Blasters - So Long Baby, Goodbye (live, Finland, 1987)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjLuKeYgJzo

    Fats Domino (live, The Hague, Holland, 1980) - Jambalaya
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDj7VfU3368


    Marvellous stuff.

    I only know Lee Allen from recordings —but Pete Thomas played with him on tour. Let's hope Pete sees this thread !
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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T View Post

    I only know Lee Allen from recordings —but Pete Thomas played with him on tour. Let's hope Pete sees this thread !
    Yes, I toured with Lee in Fats Domino band, also recorded with him a few times - he's was a monster player, very generous and encouraging to younger musicians also. he became a good friend and I was about to work with him again producing a Walking with Mr lee remake which would have been great but alas...

    I went to visit him a couple of times in the hospice in LA just before he died, he was very frail but still had some humour and love for life.
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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Thanks Mike. More good recordings to listen to and document. We appreciate it.

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    What a great thread about a tremendous player. My main influence throughout the years and the reason I first picked up the sax. Many thanks!
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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Years ago, a bandleader I was playing with schooled me on Mr. Lee. This guy had played probably every roadhouse in Northern Cal for 20-30 years before we played together. He was one of these guys who seemed like he could play (on guitar) and sing every song every recorded, but he also seemed to know the personnel on all the classic recordings, so he could rattle off the names of the soloists on everything. After I joined his band he gave a mix tape (this is how long ago it was-- a mix tape!) of a bunch of great Lee Allen. "Play like this!" he'd say. I tried! Good memories... he went to the great roadhouse in the sky a few years ago, but I still remember a lot of what he taught me.

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    It sure is good to read all the positive comments about Lee Allen. When I started playing in 1956 in the 7th grade his sax was on jukeboxes and the radios along with many other great players. I had no idea who was playing but through the years his style, and especially his unique tone on those hit records caught my attention. And still does after all these years.

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Lee was good. However, the Billy Vera statement about 'sheer volume putting him past Plas Johnson' is sheer bull. PJ was on 50X more records and sound tracks than LA and was basically the voice of the tenor sax to the average person for decades although at that time nobody knew a name to put with that huge sound. I didn't find out who he was until a few years after the Internet started.
    I learned much from both of them, and still think of Lee Allen every time I play a gig. I was fascinated with his unique way of doing something to make like his own little echo effect. I eventually came up with a way to do it and I still play that way sometimes, especially on a song that had LA in it. In this effect, the tongue goes over the top of the mouthpiece beak which cuts the sound by 1/2. Doing this rapidly, esp. with false fingerings at the same time gives an unusual effect. I had the pleasure of sitting just a few feet in front of Lee Allen and the rest of the Fats Domino show at a beach club in 1964. I was playing there regularly and they would bring in national acts sometimes. Anyway, the saxes had no mics - things were different then - and I still say you could hear LA above everything else from across the street at the Gulf Stream Motel! He had his regular Conn with the white plastic mouthpiece. I must have drank 3 or 4 pitchers that night and was putting out my cigarettes with my bare feet I was 19 and already on a real gig.

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Quote Originally Posted by 1saxman View Post
    . I was fascinated with his unique way of doing something to make like his own little echo effect. I eventually came up with a way to do it and I still play that way sometimes, especially on a song that had LA in it. In this effect, the tongue goes over the top of the mouthpiece beak which cuts the sound by 1/2. Doing this rapidly, esp. with false fingerings at the same time gives an unusual effect.
    is this effect on any of his recordings?
    Life is too short for long tones

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Sure, all of them. Listen to 'Walking With Mr. Lee' and you can hear a lot of things going on.

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    What a great thread about a tremendous player. My main influence throughout the years and the reason I first picked up the sax. Many thanks!
    Thanks Neil. I still listen to Lee Allens' solos along with Plas Johnson and many of the old school players! Just caught up in the past and I guess I always will be. So be it.

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    Default Re: "WALKIN' WITH MR. LEE" - Lee Allen

    Thanks, Mike T. Fantastic material; really awsome the last video of your list (live in The Hague with Fats Domino's band).

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