Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Peter Allen (February 10, 1944 – June 18, 1992) was an Australian songwriter and entertainer.


Born Peter Richard Woolnough in Tenterfield, New South Wales, Australia. Allen began his performing career as one of the "Allen Brothers" who were a popular cabaret and television act in the early 1960s. Mark Herron, the husband of Judy Garland, discovered Allen while he was performing in Hong Kong; and he was invited to return with them to the United States where he performed with Ms. Garland. He married her daughter Liza Minnelli in 1967. They were divorced in 1974.


Allen recorded his first album, the autobiographical "Tenterfield Saddler" (1972), but he achieved more success writing for other performers. He wrote "Don't Cry Out Loud" recorded by Elkie Brooks and Melissa Manchester and "I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love" recorded by Rita Coolidge. One of his signature songs, "I Go to Rio", was a moderate hit in America for the group Pablo Cruise. Allen scored his biggest success with the song "I Honestly Love You", which he co-wrote with Jeff Barry and which became a major hit in 1974 for Olivia Newton-John. Her single reached number one in the United States and in Canada and won two Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Newton-John.

In 1977 Allen released an album "Taught By Experts", which reached number one in Australia, along with the number one singles "I Go To Rio" and "The More I See You". Although his recording career in the US never progressed, he performed in Atlantic City and Carnegie Hall, and had a long engagement at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. His most successful album was "Bi-Coastal" (1980) produced by David Foster and featuring the top hit "Fly Away" which became his only U.S. chart single in 1981 reaching #55 on the Billboard Hot 100.

He co-wrote the song "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" with Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Christopher Cross, for Minelli's 1980 movie "Arthur". Cross' version of the song reached number one in the US, and the songwriters won an Academy Award for Best Song. He actually wrote one line for the whole song "When you get caught between the moon and New York City" from an earlier song that he and Carole Bayer Sager co-wrote.

Peter performed on Australian Television at many important occasions: in front of Queen Elizabeth II in 1980 at The Sydney Opera House, before Prince Charles and Princess Diana, once in Melbourne and again in Sydney, at the opening of "The Sydney Entertainment Centre", where he unveiled for the first time his Australia "Flag" shirt, and the 1980 Australian Rules Grand Final in Melbourne. His "Up In One Concert" of 1980 was a huge ratings success across the country. When Australia won The America's Cup, he flew out to Perth to sing before an audience of 100,000. 1988 saw him open for Frank Sinatra at Sanctuary Cove, Queensland. In America he appeared at the 30th Anniversary of Disneyland.

He returned to recording on Arista with an album entitled "Not the Boy Next Door" (1983), which hinted at several adult contemporary themes. He then recorded a live album called "Captured Live at Carnegie Hall" where he previewed songs from his upcoming musical "Legs Diamond", which opened on Broadway in 1988 with a book co-written by Harvey Fierstein. In 1990 he recorded his final album on RCA, "Making Every Moment Count", which featured Melissa Manchester and Harry Connick Jr.One of his songs, "I Still Call Australia Home", became popular through its use in television commercials, initially for National Panasonic, and then after 1988 Fact|date=April 2008 for Qantas Airlines. It came to be regarded as an unofficial Australian national anthem.

Death and legacy

Shortly before his death from an AIDS-related throat cancer, he gave his last performance in Sydney on January 26, 1992. His ashes were scattered at sea.

A musical based on his life, titled "The Boy from Oz", opened in Australia in 1998. Using his largely autobiographical songs to form the soundtrack, the production starred Todd McKenney as Allen, and Christina Amphlett of rock group Divinyls as Garland. In 2003, the musical opened on Broadway, becoming the first Australian musical ever to be performed there. In this production Allen was played by Hugh Jackman, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal in 2004. Due to his limited success as a singer in the U.S., his ten albums are very hard to find. Only seven have been issued on CD.


Allen appeared in "Soon A Rock Opera" (1970) but did not write the songs.From about 1976 to 1983 Allen dated Gregory Connell a fashion designer from Texaswho designed the sets and costumes for his shows and sang backup on his rendition of "I Go to Rio".Among those whose careers he furnished were Ellen Greene, Dean Pitchford and Harry Connick Jr.He starred in his own one-man show on Broadway "Up in One More Than a Concert" (1979)He made a cameo in "St. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band"His live version of "Everything Old is New Again" can be heard on the soundtrack to All That Jazz. After Legs Diamond closed Allen played at the Trump Casino in Atlantic City and toured with Bernadette Peters. He also attempted to do a pilot for a new "Name That Tune" show.(citation: The Boy From Oz by Stephen MacLean, 1996)Among those who have recorded his songs besides the more famous ones.
*Bobby Sherman ("Jennifer", "Just Ask Me I've Been There")
*Carole Bayer Sager ("I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love", "Don't Cry Out Loud", "You're Interesting, "You and Me", etc.)
*Anne Murray ("Everything Old is New Again")
*Peggy Lee ("I Go to Rio")
*Dusty Springfield ("Quiet Please There's a Lady on Stage", "Someone's Waiting for You", "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love", (But It's A) Nice Dream)
*Pablo Cruise ("I Go to Rio")
*Frank Sinatra ("You and Me, We Wanted It All")
*Dionne Warwick ("Somebody's Angel")
*Patti LaBelle ("I Don't Go Shopping")
*Asha Puthli ("She Loves to Hear the Music")


* "Chris and Peter Allen's Album No.#1" (unavailable on CD (1968):(featuring Chris "Allen Bell")
* "Peter Allen" (1971)

* "Tenterfield Saddler" (1972)(unavailable on CD)

* "Continental American" (1974)

* "Taught By Experts" (1976) (not on CD, though most of the songs are on the "Singer-Songwriter Anthology")
* "It's Time For Peter Allen" (1977) (live album, available on CD as part of the "Singer Songwriter Anthology")

* "I Could Have Been a Sailor" (1979)
* "Bi-Coastal" (1980)

* "Not the Boy Next Door" (1983)

* "Captured Live At Carnegie Hall" (1985)
* "Making Every Moment Count" (1990)
* "At His Best" (1993)
* "The Very Best of Peter Allen" (1997, also known as "The Boy From Oz", 1998)
* "Peter Allen- The Singer Songwriter Anthology" (1998, box set)
* "Digitally Remastered Best" (1998)
* "The Very Best Of Peter Allen (The Boy From Down Under)" (2004)
* "Ultimate" (2006)

External links

*imdb name|id=0020899|name=Peter Allen
* [ Information on his albums]
* [ Peter Allen in AusStage]

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