Terry Allen (born May 7, 1943 in Wichita, Kansas) is an American Texas country and outlaw country singer-songwriter, painter and conceptual artist from Lubbock, Texas. He currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has recorded twelve albums of original songs, including the landmark releases Juarez (1975) and Lubbock (on everything) (1979). His song "Amarillo Highway," has been covered by Bobby Bare, Sturgill Simpson and Robert Earl Keen. Other artists who have recorded Allen's songs include Guy Clark, Little Feat, David Byrne, Doug Sahm, Ricky Nelson, and Lucinda Williams.Rolling Stone magazine describes his catalog, reaching back to Juarez as "..uniformly eccentric and uncompromising, savage and beautiful, literate and guttural."
Allen also works with a wide variety of media including musical and theatrical performances, sculpture, painting, drawing and video, and installations which incorporate any and all of these media. His work has been shown throughout the United States and Internationally.
Allen's father was Fletcher ("Sled") Allen (born August 23, 1886 in West Plains, Missouri - died October 16, 1959 in Lubbock, Texas) a catcher in 1910 for the St. Louis Browns, who continued his career as a player-manager in the Texas League.
Allen attended Monterey High School in Lubbock, Texas. His contemporaries at Monterey High School included Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Jo Harvey Allen and Jo Carol Pierce. Trained as an architect, he received a B.F.A. from the Chouinard Art Institute in 1966. After briefly teaching at his alma mater (1968-1969) and the University of California, Berkeley (1971), Allen served on the faculty of the California State University, Fresno as a guest lecturer (1971-1973), associate professor (1974-1977) and professor (1978-1979) of art before resigning his appointment to pursue other opportunities. His art has been supported by three National Endowment for the Arts grants and a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. His work Trees (the music, literary and third trees) is installed on the campus of the University of California, San Diego as part of the Stuart Collection. His artwork has been featured at the L.A. Louver art gallery in Venice, California.
Allen is represented by Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco, California. His works are represented in the collections of many international museums including the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, Espace Lyonnais d'Art Contemporain, Muse;e Saint-Pierre, Lyon, France, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
Kansas City, Missouri is home to both his controversial public sculpture "Modern Communication" as well as The Belger Collection which features Terry Allen as one of their seven "core artists."
Allen began his musical career learning to play piano from his mother, Pauline Pierce Allen, who was a professional piano player. In 1962, while in High School, he wrote his first song, "Red Bird," which he would go on to perform live on Shindig! in 1965, and recorded on his 1980 album, Smokin' The Dummy.
In 1975, Allen released his debut, art-country album, Juarez, which is considered "one of the greatest concept albums of all time" according to PopMatters while Rolling Stone calls it an "outlaw classic."
The 1979 follow up, was the groundbreaking, Lubbock (on everything). His deeply moving and satirical lyrics capture his complex memory of growing up in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. According to AllMusic, Lubbock (on everything) is "one of the finest country albums of all time" and a progenitor of the alt-country movement. His song "New Delhi Freight Train," from Lubbock (on everything), was first recorded by Little Feat in 1977 on their album, Time Loves a Hero.Guy Clark says, "It's such an interesting piece of work.... It's the juxtaposition of the song."
In 1980, Allen released, Smokin' The Dummy, which he recorded with the Panhandle Mystery Band.
Over the span of a decade (1985-1995), Allen released several avant-garde albums, Pedal Steal, Amerasia and Chippy (a collaboration with Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Robert Earl Keen, Wayne Hancock), which crossover to visual, theatrical and musical medium interpretations.
Allen's 2013 album, Bottom of the World, features his Guy Clark co-write, "Queenie's Song," inspired by the death of his dog.