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Sandy Allen 
Inducted: 2009
(1944 - 1998)

Sandy Allen

Sandy Allen is remembered as “a magnificent piano player” and “the premier accompanist” in Austin. He started playing piano at age 3, toddling to the bench with phone books & catalogues to be able to reach the keys. He began writing songs at a
very young age to be performed for his mother’s friends at special church and social
club gatherings.

Born in Chicago, where he grew up not far from Wrigley Field, Sandy would pop in on his walk home from school to catch the last few innings of his beloved Cubbies. His love for the city of Chicago ran deep although the bitter cold winters were tough to bear. He began seeking a warmer climate leaving for college as an engineering major but changed his major to music, much to the chagrin of his parents. Losing financial support, he dropped out of college and left for the west coast, then to the east coast, then back & forth and all the way down to Key West traveling with the BAND of FOOLS where he met his future wife, Debbie Dillon. They lived in St. Thomas, where Sandy found steady work as a musician from 1978-1983.

The couple moved to Austin in 1984 where Sandy began a run of six nights per week for three years at the Stephen F. Austin followed by another one year at the Driskill Hotel with his trio consisting of Rob Fedson on drums and Horacio “Cola” Rodriguez on bass.  Rumors of this “magnificent piano player” in town were heard but very few local jazz musicians dropped by to hear him at his hotel gigs, but when the hotel gigs ended and Sandy hit the freelance scene, he was embraced by the entire city.

He vowed to keep Tuesdays as family night to stay home with Debbie and the kids, but the cat played basically every other night of the week until the day he died. He played the Old San Francisco Steakhouse (with the girl on the swing), Chez Fred, Sullivans, the Elephant Room, Eddie V’s, and had a special relationship writing arrangements for and accompanying local vocalists who referred to themselves as SINGERS UNLIMITED at the Common Interest and Steak & Ale where he offered musical and career support to the likes of Mady Kaye, Suzi Stern, Judith Miller, Willie Nicholson and Pamela Hart.

Allen, a vocalist as well, performed in 1995 at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, RI in support of his CD, “Shadowboxing With Reality”.

Sandy died in the hospital of kidney failure at the age of 54. As he was being taken to the operating room, he made one last phone call to the booking agent of the Elephant Room saying, “hold a date for me”.




Phone: (512) 327-JAZZ (5299)

Address: P.O. Box 170141

Austin, TX 78717

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