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Don McKinzie Allison (March 26, 1962 – May 24, 2011), known as Donnie Allison, was a musician and vocalist from Lubbock, Texas. He sang on Music Television and performed and produced at the Cactus Theater in Lubbock [1] in such productions as Jesus Christ Superstar and Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, the saga of the Lubbock rock and roll legend Buddy Holly.[2][3] Allison received strong reviews for his performance as Buddy Holly.[4]


Allison was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, and moved to Lubbock with his family shortly after tornadoes devastated Lubbock of May 11, 1970.[5] He graduated from Coronado High School and attended Texas Tech University. He graduated from South Plains College, a community college in Levelland, Texas. At the time of his death, Allison was employed by GrantWorks, Inc., in Lubbock,[6] a planning, housing, and community development service for rural Texas established in 1979.[7]


From the first to the eighth grades, Allison performed a ventriloquist act. Then at the age of fifteen, he joined the band "Live Wire," for which he traveled extensively and dropped out temporarily from high school in the eleventh grade.[8] He subsequently formed his own rock and roll band called "Impeccable"[6] and then Cardiac Mac and the EKG's. In 1983, he became the vocalist for a more longstanding group, The Nelsons, which had been organized by the guitarist John Sprott and named for the television stars, Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson, and their younger son and singer, Ricky Nelson. The group chose the name while the members were watching a rerun of an old episode of ABC's situation comedy, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The band also included Kevin Mackey on drums and Dennis Jones on bass guitar. The Nelsons first played their late 1950s and early 1960s music in the vein of Buddy Holly at fraternity parties at Texas Tech University.[8]

The Nelsons' best-remembered song, "I Don't Mind," was a winning entry in the Basement Tapes contest of 1983; the selection can be accessed on You Tube.[9] About 1986, The Nelson released "Nuke the Prom" opposite "Eating Out Is Fun" by another band, Rambo Bambi.[10] Allison stayed with The Nelsons for seven years.[11]

Allison subsequently became the lead singer for the P. J. Belly Blues Band, which performed at the since defunct Lubbock blues club known as "Belly's." He also created the doo wop group, The J.D.'s, which still performs at the Cactus Theater.[6] During his musical career, Allison went from being "a long-haired rocker to a short-haired cowhand."[2]

Key to maintaining the "Lubbock Sound" after Buddy Holly's death has been Donald E. "Don" Caldwell, a saxophone player whose Caldwell Studios, established in 1971, served as the main recording venue in Lubbock. Caldwell's promotion company acquaints the public with Lubbock musicians and performers and various musical events held in the city.[12][13]

Toby E. Caldwell, a former sound engineer at the Cactus Theater, located on Buddy Holly Avenue near the since closed old-style rock and roll radio station KDAV, said, "Donnie was always very particular about what he wanted to hear in the monitor" and was constantly striving for improvement." Caldwell, a son of Don Caldwell, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Allison's "gentle but definite guidance in running sound, playing music, directing a band or production, and in living life through adversity, will stay with me for the rest of my life."[2]

In 2010, Allison joined Lloyd Maines and Lesley Sawyer in the musical "My Cowboy's Gift", a cowboy dinner production at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock.[14]

Death and legacy[]

For four years, Allison fought head and neck cancer that spread to the lungs. While undergoing treatment he made sure to take the time to meet, greet, and offer personal encouragement to other cancer patients at the University Medical Center's Southwest Cancer and Research Center in Lubbock.[15] A public rally to support Allison during the time of his declining health was held in February 2011 at a church, Rock City at Overland Park in Lubbock.[16] Allison died at the age of forty-nine in a Lubbock hospice.[6]

Allison was briefly married while in his late teens.[8] His survivors included his wife of sixteen years, Maria Stephanie Andrade Huff Allison, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; his six-year-old son, Zachary Wayne Allison, and his parents, Wayne Allison and the former Jane Shawver; a sister, Jana Allison Jones and her husband, Steve, and a brother, David W. Allison.[6][17] At Allison's memorial service on May 28, 2011, at Trinity Church, where he and his wife had married in 1995, mourners viewed the video, "Donnie Allison's Concert of a Lifetime." His cremated remains were disbursed in Rio de Janeiro.[18][19]

In a 2014 reunion concert at the Cactus Theater, Allison was among some twenty Lubbock-area musicians honored for their work over the preceding two decades.[20]

Kyle Pettit, a former Allison friend and classmate at Coronado High School, painted an acrylic-based portrait of Allison singing and playing a guitar. It was donated and placed in the Cactus Theater not long after Allison's death. The Coronado class of 1979 paid for the framing.[21]

The four-member band Allison Firefly of Lubbock, which includes Dustin Garrett, Jason Fellers, Jose Barcenas, and Blake "The Animal" Vera, is named in Allison's honor. "Firefly" refers to a song that Allison wrote for his young son.[22]

Allison was unrelated to Jerry Allison, the drummer for Buddy Holly and The Crickets.

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  1. Cactus Theater. (March 9, 2012). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 William Kerns (May 25, 2011). Lubbock musician Don Allison loses battle with cancer at age 49: Musician Don Allison lost four-year battle with cancer and died Tuesday. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on January 29, 2015.
  3. William Kerns (February 3, 2012). Lubbock remembers Holly on 'Day the Music Died'. Midland Reporter-Telegram. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  4. Lubbock Centennial Celebration. Ralna English (March 27, 2009). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  5. Donnie Allison. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Don Allison obituary. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on September 3, 2011.
  7. GrantWorks. Retrieved on September 3, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Tim Ailis (August 1984). Ozzie and Harriet Don't Know About the Nelson. D Magazine. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  9. The Nelsons sing "I Don't Mind". You Tube. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  10. Bryan Rutt (April 11, 2011). New Wave for the New Week #119. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  11. Around Us. Plainview Daily Herald (May 25, 2011). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  12. Interview with Don Caldwell. (February 3, 1998). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  13. Don Caldwell remains hospitalized after Friday heart attack. KCBD Television (2010). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  14. My Cowboy's Gift. Texas Tech University (August 5, 2010). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  15. Karin McCay (2010). West Texas Musical Legend Donnie Allison defines his battle with cancer. KCBD-TV. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  16. William Kerns (February 11, 2011). Public rally at church Sunday to support singer Donnie Allison. Lubbock Avalanche Journal. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  17. Memorial service for singer Don Allison planned today at Trinity Church. (May 28, 2011). Retrieved on September 3, 2011.
  18. William Kerns (May 27, 2011). Memorial service for singer Don Allison planned today at Trinity Church. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  19. Family and friends remember Donnie Allison. KFDA-TV in Amarillo, Texas (May 29, 2011). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  20. Lubbock: Cactus Theater Reunion Concert. Texas Plains (February 22, 2014). Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  21. Joe Gulick (July 22, 2011). Friend of Donnie Allison paints portrait of musician for Cactus Theater: The Coronado High School class of 1979 presented a portrait of late singer and musician Donnie Allison Friday morning to Don Caldwell and the Cactus Theater, a venue where Allison often entertained. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.
  22. Eric Woods (September 25, 2014). Allison Firefly: Band's name a tribute to Donnie Allison. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on November 3, 2016.

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