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Robert Allen Remembered

Vocal jazz columnist Christopher Loudon blogs about the legacy of underrated composer Robert Allen

Chances are you’ve never heard of composer Robert Allen. But you’re undoubtedly familiar with much of Allen’s work, including the biggest pop success of his career, “Chances Are.” A dominant force during the early- and mid-1950s, when vocalists ruled the pop charts, Allen (most often with lyricist Al Stillman) penned career-shaping hits for, among others, Johnny Mathis, the Four Lads, Doris Day and Perry Como. It is estimated that sales of his songs have topped the half-billion mark, likely led by his oft-recorded seasonal chestnut “Home for the Holidays.”

Allen was also among the first songwriters to recognize the power of television to popularize music. In 1952, he joined NBC as a house composer, and subsequently delivered three title tracks –Studio One‘s “Song for a Summer Night” in 1956 and, the following year, Kraft Theater‘s “Come to Me” and Playhouse 90‘s “A Very Special Love” – that would become significant successes in their own right. In addition (for better or worse), Allen wrote Mitch Miller’s peppy “Sing Along” theme music.

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