Bobby Allison & Gerry Spehar
From two old friends who lived the troubadour wild life in 70s Colorado and the ambitious songwriter scramble in the Nashville 80s. They had too much fun, but the craft was dead serious, and this release is their legacy. A rich and gritty capture of the best of Bobby Allison and Gerry Spehar and their times. "Here's to us and them like us, damn few, all dead."
Bobby Allison was born in Levelland, Texas in a home filled with friends and music, and grew up in Roswell, New Mexico. He learned to sing and talk at the same time and cut his teeth on country music. At age four Bobby joined his teenage mom Norma on her West Texas radio and stage shows, and the duo became a Panhandle hit. Bobby’s golden voice and ability to deliver a song showed up early.
Gerry Spehar is from an old Crested Butte, Colorado pioneer family -- coal miners, ranchers and homesteaders -- born and raised in Grand Junction. He worked on his grandfather's and uncle’s ranch, punching cattle and farming. Uncle Will gave him his first guitar, a Stella, when Gerry was 13. He started writing songs, practicing like a fiend, absorbing Mississippi John Hurt finger style guitar and drinking in everyone from Haggard to Hendrix.
At eighteen, guitar in hand, Bobby moved to the big city, Denver, to pursue his talent. From dance halls and honkytonks to dinner clubs and private parties, the Bobby Allison Band became a fixture of Denver's thriving music scene, opening shows for Ray Charles and other big stars. Bobby’s strong suit was his own tunes and his love for songwriting. His song “Kinda Like Love,” was covered by Molly Hatchett.
At nineteen, Gerry bummed all over Europe, playing in train stations and cafes and living off tips, then returned to Colorado and got serious about music. He began performing in Denver in the same era as Bobby, first as a folk duo with his brother George, then in a country rock band with brothers George and Tom. The Spehar Brothers were the buzz of the mountain and mid-west club circuit, opening for Boz Scaggs, Ian & Sylvia, John Fahey, and Townes Van Zandt.
In 1981, their bands broken up, Gerry asked Bobby to sing on a demo album and a lifetime friendship and collaboration was born.
As Bowie and Byrne and MTV seized the times, Bobby and Gerry hunkered down in Bobby’s basement studio, sticking with what would prove timeless influences. “Just Relax,” “Bubba Billy Boom Boom and Me,” “Baby’s Got The Blues” and “The Good Life” came out of those early basement sessions, and this album’s cut of “Just Relax” mimics their basement demo. It was produced, played and recorded in Kansas City by former band-mate, Denny Osburn.
Bobby and Gerry gigged with their new tunes around Denver and found the blend of their voices and writing talents was something special. In 1985, that edge took them to Nashville as State and Regional winners of The Wrangler Country Showdown, playing the National Finals at The Grand Ole Opry. “The Good Life” and “Train Train Train” were the songs that did it. The Sweethearts of the Rodeo won that year, but Bobby and Gerry’s performance put them on the Nashville map, and legendary songwriter/publisher Buzz Cason (“Everlasting Love”) signed them.
The next year, Gerry made the hard decision to quit performing and take a job in Los Angeles to raise a family. Bobby entered the Showdown solo and won it all. But they remained brothers and never stopped writing together, returning often to Nashville to pitch tunes and record demos with studio aces Pete Wasner (Vince Gill) on keys, George Marinelli (Bonnie Raitt) on guitar, Michael Rhodes (bass), Lonnie Wilson (drums), Rick Plant (guitar), Lisa McKenzie (vocals) and others. This album’s cuts of “Kinda Like Love,” “Bite The Bullet,” “Baby’s Got The Blues,” “River,” “Bubba Billy Boom Boom and Me,” “The Good Life” and “Train, Train, Train” came out of those late 90’s sessions. Christine Spehar and Gerry added backing vocals in LA for this album.
Bobby went on to establish a non-stop performing career in casinos and gaming towns, from historic Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, playing day and night and writing songs about the history and characters of the places he played. Pass Christian, Mississippi - 60 miles east of New Orleans - became home, and Bobby the Gulf Coast's favorite singer. He recorded the album cut of their honkytonk tune “Rocking On A Country Dance Floor” in Pass Christian. “Here In The Pass,” written in 2015 and recorded with Paul Lacques, Paul Marshall and Shawn Nourse (I See Hawks In LA) in Los Angeles and Chris Tuttle in Nashville, recounts that idyllic setting.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles Gerry never put the guitar down, amassing hundreds of tunes in late night sessions in the man cave. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Pass Christian and upended Bobby’s life, and he found refuge for a time with Gerry in LA. The songs “Balmorhea” and “Eye Of The Needle” were written and recorded on that visit, and later enhanced for this album by Erinn Bone (Eye of the Needle), Gabe Witcher (Balmorhea) and Paul Lacques and Paul Marshall.
Bobby’s indomitable spirit landed him on his feet to start all over again, writing new songs, performing at special events, teaming up with Gerry for performances in Los Angeles, Colorado and Pass Christian. And thirty years on, family raised, Gerry jumped back into music full bore, releasing three acclaimed albums from 2017 to 2021: I Hold Gravity, Anger Management, and Lady Liberty.
Through it all, “Bubba and Grog” continued writing and recording together, collaborating most recently for this album on “Money” and “Delta Man,” which were recorded with the aforementioned Hawks, as was Gerry’s “25 Miles to Brady” (with Chris Tuttle on keys).
Delta Man is a unique brand of music by a special blend of talents. It is four decades of brotherhood. It is Bobby Allison and Gerry Spehar, heart and soul.