Johnnie Allan

The "Ambassador of Swamp Pop"
Listen to Johnnie Allan on South to Louisiana

Starting out as a steel guitarist in Cajun king Lawrence Walker's Wandering Aces at the tender age of fifteen, Johnnie Allan remembers well Walker's sardonic comments a few years later when the dignified accordionist discovered that he and a few of his teenage band mates had begun to dabble in rock 'n' roll on the side: "So that's what happens when you put an old horse out to grass." Perhaps Allan felt a tinge of guilt at the time, but being diehard Walker fans, we can honestly say that the great musician (who would most certainly be an honored guest at the Stomp were he not currently playing waltzes in the green pastures of heaven) can only be smiling upon his once rebellious protégé now. Allan has been successfully melding his Cajun roots with his beloved rock 'n' roll for the better part of forty years and—rather than cashing in his regionalism for commercial concerns—has been a prime player in the development of the South Louisiana rock 'n' roll style. He's also been one of the greatest champions of all things musically Acadian, traveling the back roads and bayous of the state in search of photographic evidence of a scene that in far too many cases, has only been glimpsed by those who were lucky enough to have been there when it all happened. Published in his must-have book Memories, the photographs take in bands so obscure that many of them never even recorded.

Allan, thankfully, did record and quite prolifically, first with his band the Krazy Kats and then on his own, scoring a massive UK hit with an ingenious reworking of Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" that combines the best of his two favorite worlds. Belton Richard's accordion intro bolstered by a driving rock 'n' roll beat had to have gained the heavenly approval of Allan's old boss, Lawrence Walker, as Walker himself had been one of the first to combine Cajun with the Big Beat, rocking out on 1959's classic "Allons Rock 'n' Roll."

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