Gary Allan broke onto the scene in 1996 with “Her Man” and has since released seven albums, five of which have gone platinum or gold. His latest single, “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain),” is sitting in the Top 5 at country radio and is the lead single from his new album, Set You Free, out January 22. The track’s title is fitting for Gary’s career as he’s weathered a number of storms while chasing his musical dreams.
He started performing with his father and brother in clubs around Southern California at age 12 and by 15, received his first record deal offer. His father made him turn it down, saying he wasn’t ready. He started pursuing a country career in earnest in his 20s, selling his construction company when a record deal seemed like a sure thing. That deal fell through however, and he sold cars while working towards his next break. A couple he’d sold a truck to returned to the dealership one day, raving about music that had been left in the glove compartment. It was a copy of Gary’s demo.
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“I told them it was me and I’d had a contract that fell through so I was saving money to go to Nashville and make a demo,” Gary told the Kansas City Star. “The wife asked how much that would cost. I said $10,000 to $12,000. Then the husband taps his wife on the shoulder and says, ‘Write him a check,’ which she did for $12,000. I gave it back and said I didn’t want to feel like I owed them anything if it didn’t work out. They just laughed and gave it back to me.”
Six months later, Gary used the money to go to Nashville and record a demo that would help him land a record deal with Decca Nashville, now MCA Nashville. Even as his career took off, Gary still weathered his share of storms. In 2004, his wife of three years committed suicide in the couple’s Nashville home. The tragedy took its toll on Gary personally and professionally.
“After she died, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t do anything, I was a mess,” he told People two years after her death. “I was just packing stuff up one day, and a buddy asked me what I was doing. I said, ‘Just puttin’ memories away.’ And then I laughed and said, ‘Let’s write that song.’ And that’s when I realized, I’ve got a lot to say right now. It surprised me that I could do it. But what I realized is that music was my only real escape.”
Gary poured those emotions into his 2005 album, Tough All Over which went on to achieve gold status. Even with the ups and downs and a tour schedule that includes at least 100 dates a year, Gary wouldn’t trade his career.
“It’s a relentless lifestyle but I love it, the fast-pace and the grueling parts of the road,” he said to the paper. “It never fades. You either love the hustle and bustle or you don’t. Once I got my record deal, I knew this is what I wanted to do. It has been a real slow but steady climb. There have been peaks and valleys, but we’ve managed to keep improving and getting bigger and attracting more fans. And what I’m proudest of is I did it all my way. I’m really proud of my entire past.”