The Second Disc mourns the loss of singer-songwriter-musician-producer Keith Allison, 79, best known for his time as a member of Paul Revere and The Raiders.
The Texas-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had already toured with artists including Ray Peterson and The Crickets when he was plucked from the audience at the Whisky A' Go-Go and groomed for stardom on the weekday music show Where the Action Is. In a classic case of "right place, right time," busy session musician Allison was at the Whisky to get Tommy Boyce or Bobby Hart's signature on a voucher for having played on a demo of theirs. It happened to be the first day of production at the venue for Dick Clark's new ABC-TV show set to premiere on June 28, 1965. "They said they needed people in seats," Allison told TSD's Joe Marchese in 2014, "so one of the dancers grabbed me. She pulled me in a seat and grabbed my little leather cap and put it on her head, and I clapped along with the music. They took a couple of camera shots and [they] got a landslide of mail wanting to know who the kid was!"
Before long, Allison was reached in Las Vegas, where he was performing with his cousin Jerry Allison's famous band, The Crickets. Clark flew him back to Los Angeles..."and they signed me on the spot," he noted with pride. Throughout the show's nearly two-year run, Allison performed the day's pop hits in front of the visibly swooning teenaged girls in the audience, and when Boyce and Hart opted to replace the original theme "Where the Action Is" (sung by Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon and written by Boyce with Steve Venet) with "Action, Action, Action," Keith was chosen to sing it. A busy session guitarist, he had also played on the Cannon song.
"The kid" would famously go on to join his Where the Action Is co-stars Paul Revere and The Raiders from 1968 to 1975, but that impressive tenure is just one aspect of his musical life. Keith co-wrote such classic songs as The Monkees' "Auntie's Municipal Court" (with Michael Nesmith) and the oft-covered "Freeborn Man" (with Mark Lindsay), produced an album by Ronnie Hawkins, served as a musical director for Ray Peterson, Ringo Starr, and Dolenz, Jones, Boyce, and Hart, and played on scores of records from artists including Ringo, The Monkees, Sonny & Cher, Harry Nilsson, and the Raiders' Freddy Weller. In 2000, he began playing with session vet Waddy Wachtel's live band, a gig he relished right up through his passing.
Keith recorded one well-received album for Columbia Records, 1967's In Action, prior to joining Revere's group. The LP, featuring the famed Wrecking Crew and production from Gary Usher, was expanded in 2014 by Real Gone Music as In Action: The Complete Columbia Sides Plus! on CD, adding his Columbia and Amy single sides. Keith contributed to every aspect of the package, from sharing his vivid memories for Joe's liner notes through supplying photographs from his personal collection. But he was ever modest. When asked what excited him about the reissue of In Action, he replied with typical modesty, "Can you believe [Roger] McGuinn singing 'I'm a Believer' and Glen Campbell singing 'Lies'?" Those were just two of the surprises on In Action. Keith stuck by his many friends throughout his entire life, and they stuck by him. He'll be remembered for his kindness, generosity, and musicianship; he brought the action to all of his endeavors.