Songwriter Harley Allen Passes [Updated]

Harley Allen

Harley Allen Service Scheduled


Respected songwriter Harley Allen succumbed to cancer early this morning, Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Known as a country traditionalist, Allen is credited with hits including Blake Shelton’s “The Baby,” Joe Nichols’ “I’ll Wait For You,” and Darryl Worley’s “Awful, Beautiful Life.” He was 55.

Allen, a songwriter at Harlan Howard Songs, has also had numerous cuts by Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley, Gary Allan, Garth Brooks, Josh Turner and more.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of bluegrass singer Red Allen, and followed in his father’s musical footsteps at an early age.

Allen’s work often came from a unique perspective, such as the compelling story song, “The Little Girl,” a No. 1 hit recorded by John Michael Montgomery, that Allen wrote alone in a matter of minutes.

Former publisher Jewel Coburn describes him as an “unbelievably prolific writer” with a heart as big as his song catalog. Jewel and Barry Coburn were early supporters of the burgeoning songwriter, first signing him to their Ten Ten Music more than 20 years ago.

They say he was a wonderful talent, whose music was always full of surprises. Aided by a sense of humor, his impact on the local music community was far reaching.

Allen had been battling lung cancer for a short time and was released from the hospital yesterday. He passed peacefully at home with his family by his side.

He is survived by wife Debbie Nims, son Aaron, and daughters Katie and Maggie.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, April 6 at 2 PM at Christ Church, 15354 Old Hickory Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37211.

Harley Allen was among the songwriters who teamed up for a 2009 benefit concert to help a friend in the music industry in her own battle with cancer. Pictured at the Bluebird Cafe at a benefit for longtime Warner Music Group employee Gina Hilburn, from left: Patrick Davis, Hilburn, Allen, Lisa Carver and Marv Green.


Tommy Boyd, Greg, Neal, Harley, Ronnie, and Red


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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