NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Maine’s own Ira Bridges Allen passed away at 5:05 a.m.,
Sunday July 25, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee. Ira was born Nov. 1, 1937,
to Eugene Pride and Eva Jackson Pride. He was born and raised in the Norway-South
Paris area, and became interested in music at an early age. He performed on area radio
shows with a local country music group. After graduating from high school, he moved
to Boston to follow his “Hillbilly Dream” and later to New York City where
he worked with DJ Alan Freed, playing rockabilly and country rock music.
After serving three years in the Army, Ira got back into music
on the West Coast, performing on television with well-known names like Buck Owens,
Loretta Lynn and the Ventures. He performed in clubs and began writing songs.
Ira’s success as a song writer started when he co-wrote a classic country song
with Buddy Mize that has been recorded by more than 100 artists, beginning with
Vern Gosdin and continuing with Conway and Loretta, Cher, Barbara Mandrell, Kitty Wells,
and the list goes on and on. The song, “Just Enough To Keep Me Hangin’ On” is also listed
in the credits of the 2011 movie “Country Strong”. He later
self-penned “Cabbage Patch Doll” which lead to a television show.
In 1956, Ira recorded with MRS Records in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1958 and 1959,
he was a member of Buck Owens’ Bar-K Gang Jamboree and subsequently performed
in Tacoma and Seattle with The Ventures before they had a hit record.
In 1966 Ira recorded with Dot Records. 1967 Ira recoded for Capital Records,
produced by Buck Owens and Ken Nelson; 1971 through 1977, Ira recorded for
Portland Records produced by Gene Breeden; 1978 Ira produced himself on a
label entitled Country Northwest; he and his band won the prestigious award
with the Academy of Country Music (ACM) as the best non-touring band at the
World Famous Palomino Club in Hollywood, California. In 1985 Ira was produced
by Jimmy Young at Music Mill in Nashville, Tenn., for L & S Records.
Ira is listed in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for his self-penned
song “Nursery Rock” in 1958. As a Songwriter, Ira won a “Nashville Songwriter’s
Association Award” in both 1967 and 1968.
In 1985 Ira won Maine Country Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year
and most prestigious award as Entertainer of the Year; 1999 and 2000 he performed
at the Nashville Nightlife Dinner Theater. In 2005, Ira was inducted into
the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame.
He starred in a one-hour special on PBS network
entitled “So You Want To Be A Star” with Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones,
Slim Whitman, Don Gibson and Little Jimmy Dickens.
While on Capital Records, Ira recorded his own
composition “Cold Cold Wind” on Buck Owens’ “Big in Vegas” album produced by Buck.
For 25 years, Ira headlined the “Maine Country Pioneer Show”, produced by Norn Poulin.
His former band – The Palomino Riders reunited with Ira for the final two years.
In 2016, Ira returned to his home state of Maine to perform with fellow Maine
entertainer Perley Curtis for four shows.
Ira is survived by his wife of 33 years, Judi Martin, Murfreesboro, Tenn.; son,
Michael Allen (Kate) of Tempe, Ariz., daughter, Kendra (Greg) Cooke of
Huntersville, N.C., daughter Sheri Morgan of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; grandchildren:
Anastasia and Miriam Allen Kory Cooke of Murfreesboro, Tenn. He is also survived
by: Sister, Nancy (Larry) Jordan of Greene, sister, Trudy (Dale) Durgior Sr o
f Norway, sister, Ruth (Don) Upton of Norway, sister, Karen (Roger) Goodwin
of Oxford; sister, Gloria (Maurice) Dorey of Rumford, sister, Rhonda (James) Tibbetts of Norway, brother, Billy Pride of Gray, brother, Eugene (Joyce) Pride of Dade City, Fla., and several nieces and nephews.
Ira was preceded in death by his dad, Eugene Pride, stepmother, Ruth Pride, mother,
Eva Allen, stepdad, Mel Allen, brother, Abner Allen, sister, Joan Tucker, grandpa,
Solomon Jackson and grandmother, Eva Jackson.
Graveside service will be at 10 a.m., on Saturday July 31, 2021, at Norway Pine
Grove Cemetery in South Paris. Arrangements are under the care of Chandler Funeral
Homes, 45 Main St., South Paris. Online condolences may be shared with his
family at http://www.chandlerfunerals.com.
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