Gene Allison!

Well it seems like I’m back in the Fifties tonight with some One-Hit people.  Here is a great R&B song that did well on the Pop hit parade in 1958…


Gene Allison

(August 29, 1934 – February 28, 2004)


 You Can Make it if you Try/ Vee-Jay 256/ March 1958/ #36

Best remembered for the R&B classic “You Can Make It if You Try,” singer Gene Allison was born Versle Eugene Allison in Pegram, TN, on August 29, 1934. Seven years later, his family relocated to Nashville, where he and brother, Leevert (later a professional gospel singer), honed their vocal talents singing in their church choir.

While still in high school, Allison was asked to fill in with the famed gospel quartet, the Fairfield Four. A stint with the Skylarks followed, and brought him to the attention of songwriter and producer Ted Jarrett, who convinced him to sign to his Calvert label and pursue a career in secular music.

When Vee-Jay Records began courting another Ted Jarrett protégé, singer Larry Birdsong, the producer insisted the label could only sign Birdsong if they took on Allison as well — the latter’s first single, the Jarrett-penned, gospel-inspired ballad “You Can Make It if You Try” was recorded at Owen Bradley’s Nashville studio and released on Vee-Jay in 1957, cracking the top five on Billboard’s R&B chart and crossing over into the pop Top 40.

The record was such a success that Allison was able to open his own Nashville restaurant, a 24-hour soul food joint called Gene’s Drive-In — his mother was even installed as manager.

He had some success with two other singles, namely ‘Have Faith’ and ‘Everything Will Be All Right’.

Both songs charted in the R & B Top 20.

Gene’s success faded in the 1960’s; however, he recorded for several independent labels.

A shy man, he rarely gave interviews; however, he had considered returning to the recording studio when died at the age of 69.

Gene died on the 28th of February 2004 from liver and kidney failure at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

‘You Can Make It If You Try’ was covered by The Rolling Stones’ in 1964.



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