steve allen

steve allen ( * 1921/12/21  + 2000/10/30)
frank zappa was a guest in the steve allen tv show in the early sixties. together with host steve allen, zappa played a bicycle.  video footage exists.

for someone of steve allen's versatility and staggering capacity for work, jazz occupies a small yet significant portion of his biography. yet despite his crowded agenda, allen can still spin out facile, competent, bop-and-cocktail-flavored piano in fast jazz company - nothing particularly original but always pleasurable to hear. he started to play the piano while a child - his parents were traveling vaudeville performers - but the keyboard soon had to take a backseat to his media career, first on radio and then on television. best-known as a comedian and the first host of the american tv institution, the tonight show 1954-57), allen frequently played piano and sang on his shows and used them as a forum to present guests from the jazz world. he also played the lead role in the film the benny goodman story in 1955, produced the tv series jazz scene usa in 1962, and narrated a history of jazz on records the jazz story coral). allen recorded frequently for coral, dot, roulette, emarcy, and decca during the peak of his tv fame and as late as 1992, taped an enjoyable mainstream set for concord jazz, plays jazz tonight..
in addition to some 43 books (and counting), allen claims to have written (as of 1994) more than 4,700 songs, of which only a bare handful - "this could be the start of something (big)," "gravy waltz," "impossible" - have staked claims in the repertoire. ultimately allen's most valuable contribution to jazz has been as a cheerleader in the mass media. -- richard s. ginell

     from: fred banta (
     subject: steve allen & frank: jammin on bicycles in heaven

steve allen, the zany comedian and witty social commentator whose career zipped at warp speed from one occupation to the next--from hosting the original tonight show to lecturing about morality to composing thousands of songs--died monday night at the home of his son, bill, in encino. he was 78.
     allen had been playing with four of his 11 grandchildren when he lost consciousness and later died of an apparent heart attack, said his publicist, warren cowan associates. the son of vaudeville actors, allen charmed radio and television audiences for decades with his inspired schtick, most of it ad-libbed. as host of the tonight show in the mid-1950s, allen invented the genre of late-night tv and redefined the art of comedy, serving up screwball skits like the question man and the very emotional reading aloud of letters to the editor.
     "my comedy has always appealed to the hip and to the silly, whether it's the nine-year-olds who dig the silliness, or the high-school and college kids who dig the hipness," he once said.
     but allen was equally comfortable with more serious material. he created meeting of the minds, an award-winning educational television show, in 1977 to present imaginary debates between historical figures such as charles darwin, attila the hun and marie antoinette. allen also made a determined effort to introduce his viewers to jazz greats, showcasing soloists with the tonight show band and interviewing legendary musicians for a television program called "jazz scene u.s.a."
     allen's versatility astounded his many admirers. he dove into nine feet of jell-o on the tonight show, and also penned a weighty book on religious cults. he composed the song "this could be the start of something big," and also published a murder mystery, a musical and three books of poetry. he pioneered the concept of taking a hand-held microphone into the audience, and also analyzed migrant farm workers in the 1966 book "the ground is our table." allen, who called himself a musical illiterate, gives an interview in his office in van nuys in 1996.
  julie marks / for the times

     from religious communes to nuclear weapons, from chinese culture to body-toning gimmicks, allen's interests spanned the globe. he took pride in his expansive imagination: "i never repeat a routine," he told the chicago sun-times in 1995. "i'm the only comic in the business without an act. i've been doing this for 50 years and never had one." the man hailed as "hey, ho, steverino" was born the day after christmas in 1921 with a mouthful of a name: stephen valentine patrick william allen. his father died when he was a toddler, and his mother took to the road with a comedy routine, often leaving young steve in the care of her family, the donohues. allen has traced his comic gift to his childhood with the donohues, who bantered constantly-- sometimes sarcastically, sometimes disparagingly, but always humorously. growing up amid laughter, allen found comedy came to him as naturally as coughing. "the reason i don't have ego problems is that i'm clear about one thing," allen told the boston globe in 1989. "my gifts are in the same category as the color of my eyes: genetic. it's just a roll of the dice."
allen launched his career in 1942, when he dropped out of college after desultory studies at drake university in iowa and the arizona state teachers college. he picked up a job at radio station koy in pheonix, producing his own show and launching his first comedy act. drafted during world war ii, allen was released from the army after just a few months due to disabling bouts with asthma. in his 1960 autobiography "mark it and strike it," allen described himself as "a pampered, sickly bean-pole, too weak for athletics and too asthmatic for the army."
instead, he found his niche performing. allen moved west for a job with hollywood radio station knx in 1948 and developed his now-famous routine of dabbling with the piano keys, chatting with his audience, commenting on his mail and improvising hijinks. after just two years, allen transferred his radio act to television with the steve allen show, which debuted on christmas day 1950.
but allen's greatest biggest success came three years later, when he signed up to host the tonight show from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., live from new york city. with his madcap antics and free-swinging experimentation, allen turned the tonight show into a riotous, and wholly unpredictable, program. comedian george carlin described allen's verbal fireworks as "crashing, cascading brilliance [with] an instinct for the jugular." allen remembered the tonight years more modestly: "it was tremendous fun."
with a giddiness that belied his scholarly-looking spectacles, allen plunged his six-foot, three-inch frame into a huge bowl of salad for an tonight show wrestling match. another time, he donned a vendor's togs to peddle hot dogs on the street. occasionally, allen abandoned the entertainment format to tackle more substantive issues. he devoted one entire show to a news program on organized crime. and to demonstrate the perils of drinking and driving, he downed six double-vodkas on air, then let his fumbling drunkenness speak for itself. mainly, though, allen believed in laughter. and he kept his audience rolling throughout his four-year tenure as the tonight host.     in 1956, he launched a reprieve of the steve allen show. although his program frequently lost its cutthroat ratings battle with the ed sullivan show, allen attracted loyal viewers with his stable of improv actors, including don knotts playing the frightfully nervous mr. morrison and bill dana assuming the role of the shy, jumpy jose jiminez. allen frequently frustrated his writing team by abandoning the script and hurtling headlong into whatever topic snagged his attention. he could turn any issue, however morbid, into a snappy one-liner. "jokes are always about sexual frustrations, about being victimized, about being too tall or too short, about being too fat or too skinny," allen told the boston globe in 1989. "we laugh at our tragedies in order to prevent our suffering . . . if we think about the tragedies on our planet, we could spend all day in bed crying. so we laugh to survive, to continue our lives." allen divided his own life into two parts-- with the happiest and most productive segment coming after his marriage to actress jayne meadows in 1954. (allen wed his first wife, dorothy goodman, during his stint in arizona, and divorced her after meeting meadows. he had two sons with goodman and one with meadows.)
jayne meadows lent her name to two of allen's companies-- meadowlane music, which published thousands of his songs, and meadowlane enterprises, which produced his television shows, nightclub acts and the odd drama. meadows inspired allen throughout his career, helping him achieve his ever-expanding goals and encouraging him to try new fields. "i've always been a compulsive reader," he once said, "but after marrying jayne, i started reading different things." he also started writing different things. first, a collection of satirical short stories ("the girls on the tenth floor," 1958), then a pamphlet on international politics ("morality and nuclear war," 1961). he wrote a rather rambling novel ("not all your laughter, not all your tears," 1963), a report on the nation's laspe into immorality ("corruption in america," 1979) and a documentary of his two visits to asia ("explaining china," 1980). an irascible activist, allen spoke out loudly against capital punishment and nuclear proliferation. he bemoaned the lapse of what today would be called "family values," but allen was hardly a conservative. his concern for society's underdogs led him to consder running for either the u.s. congress or the california legislature as a democrat in the early 1960s. instead, he chose to zing the public consciousness in writing, churning out "dialogues in americanism" and "letter to a conservative" in hopes of stimulating political debate.      as he blew past age 65, allen gave no thought to retiring. he had made millions from histelevision shows, his commercials for mocha mix and restonic matresses, royalties on his songs, and his lectures across the country. but still, he continued to write, speak, act, compose and perform with several symphonies a year. he always walked around with at least one tape recorder at his side, careful to capture his ideas before they slipped away. and he generated--and read--huge stacks of paper. "i think it would be appropriate after i die," he told the new york times, "if they just shovel 8,000 pounds of paper on top of me instead of dirt." in the 1990s, allen turned his biting wit to a long-standing concern: the dumbing-down of america. he coined a term, "dumbth," to express his view of most americans as slow-witted, gullible and bumbling. "the american people are dumber now than they have been in a long time," he explained. although he sprinkled his observations with humor, allen was dead serious about dumbth, alarmed that americans seemed oblivious about world events, ignorant of history and clueless about geography. things were different when he was a boy growing up in the midwest, he said. "there was nobody in my group of 10 year-olds who didn't know where canada was." television, too, incurred his wrath. as early as 1980, allen told the washington post that tv comedies were "far too dirty for my taste. a lot of the younger comics are deliberately going for the ain't-we- naughty kind of stuff." later, he mourned, "what we used to consider shame [now] tends to make you a celebrity." yet another of allen's preoccupations was religion. he wrote the book "beloved son: a story of the jesus cults" after his son brian joined the love family commune. and while he pilloried most religious beliefs as stupid, he raised money for the unitarian church, the salvation army and other religious groups. he saw no contradiction in helping churches even as he belittled their ideology. "if someone were to invent a religion tomorrow in which, if you want to contact god, all you have to do is buy a pumpkin, everyone at first would scoff at the stupid person who believes that somehow pumpkins are physically part of god," he told the times in 1992. "but now, chapter 2: these people open kitchens, buy clothing and build shelters for the homeless. i think their views about pumpkins are dumb, but they are helping starving, miserable people and i admire them, and i will help them." in his later years, allen tooled around southern california in an aquamarine rolls royce. he marked his favorite parking space with a typically brash warning: "don't even think about parking here." and he filled his van nuys office and encino home with stacks of black notebooks containing newspaper stories and other tidbits of information organized by topic, from aids to congress, economics to politics, religion to "funny men." allen continued to seek new venues for performing throughout his life. he put out a compact disc, "steve allen plays jazz tonight," in 1995. during his publicity tour, he acknolwledged that he had never learned to read music. but he heard notes constantly, he told the chicago sun-times, describing the sensation as "this magic radio in my head."
in putting together a retrospective of allen's broadcast career, david bushman, the curator of the museum of television and radio, described his subject as "a man with two sides: the serious man trapped in a vaudevillian's body." allen seemed to take delight in both of his personalities--the acerbic social commentator and the loony, daring comedian. as for his frenetic pace, he laughingly called it a genetic secret. "i never planned it," he said. "all i can say is what popeye says: 'i am what i am.' "

also please refer to the steve allen show entry in the videography faq.


from the "Paul Buff presents the PAL and Original Sound studio archives, vol.18" liner notes by Greg Russo:
"Closing out this volume is Frank Zappa's appearance on Steve Allen's television show in March 1963. This master was transferred from the original film, so it is the best quality presentation of this track that has ever been released."

from the "Paul Buff presents the PAL and Original Sound studio archives, vol.18" liner notes by Greg Russo:
"Our first volume had the complete Frank Zappa interview with Steve Allen and their joint performance of his "Cyclophony" on his sister Candy's bicycle. If you just want to hear the live performance with studio extracts created at Pal, here it is!"

discography/ filmography:



  1955 steve allen's bop fables  
  1965 gibbs, terry- terry gibbs quartet (piano)  
  oliver nelson and steve allen: soulful brass
    (1968, lp, usa, impulse as-9168)

1969 ekseption- beggar julia's time trip (vocals)

1973 chiaroscuro christmas- chiaroscuro christmas (piano)

1975 allen, rance- soulful experience

1976 capp, frank- juggernaut (liner notes)

1978 jones, jack- greatest hits [curb] (composer)

1979 langer, clive- i want the whole world  (vocals)

1979 twenty twenty- 20/20 guitar, (vocals)

1980 langer, clive- splash (vocals)

1980 original mirrors- original mirrors (vocals)

1980 seymour, phil- phil seymour (guitar)

1980 tremblers- twice nightly (vocals)

1981 original mirrors- heart twango & raw beat (vocals)

1981 twenty twenty- look out! (guitar, keyboards, vocals)

1982 twenty twenty- sex trap (guitar, vocals)

1982 steve allen plays jazz tonight (concord jazz)

1982 steve allen plays hi-fi music for influentials (varese)

1982 steve allen plays cool, quiet, bossa nova (laserlight)

1982 steve allen on the air (varese)

1983 collins, al jazzbeau- steve allen's hip fables (piano)

1984 schmit, timothy b-  playing it cool (saxophone)

1986 lanz, david- desert vision (guitar (bass))

1988 lanz, david-  whiter shade of pale (bass (electric), conductor, acoustic bass,

        string arrangements, fretless bass)

1988 lanz, david-  cristofori's dream   (bass, arranger, bass (electric), conductor,

        guitar (electric), fretless bass guitar, guitar (acoustic))

1988 tingstad & rumbel- legends  (bass)

1989 mcguire sisters- greatest hits (liner notes)

1989 bochinche caracas-  programming, (producer)

1990 narada collection narada collection, vol. 2- (synthesizer, bass, arranger, conductor

1990 l.a. ya ya- l.a. ya ya  (sax (baritone), sax (tenor)

1990 peacock, christopher- oceans (bass)

1991 gibbs, terry- kings of swing  (liner notes)

1992 very special christmas- very special christmas 2  (bass)

1992 fitzgerald, scott- up & running  (sax (alto), sax (baritone), sax (tenor)

1992 dejulio, jim- fascinating jazz  (liner notes)

1993 triplets- algo mas que amor (executive producer)

1993 silverman, david- i have dreamed (liner notes)

1994 tractors- tractors (guitar)

1994 gibbs, terry- play that song: live at the 1994 fl (liner notes)

1995 twenty twenty- 4 day tornado (guitar, vocals, producer)

1996 come and get it: a tribute to badfinger  (guitar, vocals)

1996 weathersby, shad- dreamworld (horn, sax (soprano), horn arrangements)

1996 seymour, phil- precious to me (organ, guitar)

1996 songs of steve allen- (executive producer)

1996 lynn, cheryl- got to be real: the best of cheryl (engineer)

1996 byrd, chris- shower down (photography)

1997 g.- gina fresh  (executive producer)

1997 poptopia! 70's power pop classics- (guitar, vocals)

1997 boone, pat- fifties: complete (vocals)

1997 kubis, tom- keep swingin' (plays steve allen) (vocals)

1998 scott, marilyn- avenues of love (saxophone)

1998 ekseption- sensational (vocals)

1998 tickle tune typhoon- keep the spirit (vocals

1998 sherman, allan- my son, the greatest (liner notes)

1998 anthology of new music, vol. 1: jan guitar, (vocals)




various artists: paul buff presents the pal and original sound studio archives, vol.1
    (2010, download, -, crossfire publications) - feat.contributions by frank zappa

buff_palcd01.jpg (27212 bytes)

  various artists: paul buff presents the pal and original sound studio archives, vol.18
    (2010, download, -, crossfire publications) - feat.contributions by frank zappa

pal18.jpg (100781 bytes)

  various artists: paul buff presents the pal and original sound studio archives: the collection
    (2011, flash-drive, usa, crossfire publications) = the complete 35 album series, with bonus liner notes on pdf and 56 extra tracks
palcollection.jpg (23146 bytes)



actor filmography


   1.james dean: a portrait (1996) (tv) .... himself (1995) .... himself

   3.witchcraft 7: judgement hour (1995) .... paramedic

     ... aka witchcraft 7: a taste for blood (1995) tammany miracle, the (1994) .... julia's grandfather

   5."bold and the beautiful, the" (1987) tv series .... himself (1993)

     ... aka "glamour" (1987)

     ... aka "rags" (1987) (working title)

     ... aka "top models" (1987)

   6.player, the (1992) .... himself


   7.great balls of fire! (1989) .... himself women on the moon (1987) .... himself ("roast your loved one")

     ... aka cheeseburger film sandwich (1987)

   9."life's most embarrassing moments" (1985) tv series .... host

  10."start of something big, the" (1985) tv series .... host

  11.alice in wonderland (1985) (tv) .... gentleman in the paper suit

  12.ratings game, the (1984) (tv) .... himself

     ... aka mogul, the (1984) (tv)

  13.funny farm, the (1983) .... himself

  14."steve allen comedy hour, the" (1980) tv series .... host

  15.heart beat (1980) .... himself


  16.gossip columnist, the (1979) (tv)

  17.stone (1979) (tv)

  18."meeting of minds" (1977) tv series

  19."rich man, poor man" (1976) (mini) tv series .... bayard nichols

     ... aka "rich man, poor man - book i" (1976) (mini)

  20.sunshine boys, the (1975) (uncredited) .... himself


  21.comic, the (1969) .... himself

  22.where were you when the lights went out? (1968) .... radio announcer you see it, now you don't (1968) (tv) .... herschel

  24.warning shot (1967) .... perry knowland

  25."steve allen comedy hour, the" (1967) tv series .... host

  26."that was the week that was" (1964) tv series

  27."i've got a secret" (1952) tv series .... moderator (1964-1967) confidential (1960) .... steve macinter


  29.big circus, the (1959)

  30."the steve allen show" (1956) tv series .... host

  31.benny goodman story, the (1955) .... benny goodman

  32."tonight show, the" (1954) tv series .... host (1954-1957)

  33."talent patrol" (1953) tv series .... emcee (1953)

     ... aka "soldier parade" (1954) (new title)

  34."what's my line" (1950) tv series .... panelist (1953-1954)

  35."songs for sale" (1950) tv series .... host

  36."steve allen show, the" (1950) tv series .... regular

   37.down memory lane (1949) .... steve allen

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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