Richard Binion Allen | 1927 - 2007 | Obituary

Richard Binion Allen
Richard Binion Allen

January 29, 1927 - April 12, 2007

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Richard Binion Allen 80 died Thursday April 12, 2007. Services will be at 2:00 PM Monday at the chapel of Moores Funeral Home with Rev. Billy Hargrove officiating. Burial will follow at Memory Hill Cemetery.

Mr. Allen was born in Milledgeville on January 29, 1927. In New Orleans he is widely renowned as the co-founder and second Curator (1965-1980) of the Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University, renamed the William Ransom Hogan Archive of New Orleans Jazz after the death of Professor Hogan, Chair of Department of History when the Archive was established in 1958, due to a grant proposal written by him to the Ford Foundation. Yet the idea of the Archive grew from a topic developed by Allen for a master’s thesis, which became a research center instead with Dr. Hogan’s encouraging. Richard Allen was one of the foremost oral historians working in jazz studies, largely based on the respect he afforded to and received from the musicians he interviewed. Sage New Yorker jazz critic Whitney Balliett once inscribed a book to Allen, calling him “a kind, indefatigable, and cool Vergil” after spending a week with him in the Crescent City. Given his expertise on New Orleans jazz, Allen lectured for organizations such as the American Historical Association, American Musicological Society, American Board of Pediatrics, and others. He published widely in jazz periodicals such as Storyville, Footnote, Studies in Jazz Discograophy, Jazz Times, and The Mississippi Rag and contributed to programs for the Newport Jazz Festival and Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He served on the Board of Journal of Jazz Studies and Mecca magazine, taught classes on Jazz history for Tulane’s University College, and was given credit for assistance with the book Brass Bands and New Orleans Jazz written by William J. Schafer. He retired from Tulane University in 1992, but continued to be active in the jazz community. It was Balliett who perhaps, once again, summed up Richard Allen’s contributions most succinctly in stating in 1967, “Allen is not only the Curator of the Archive of New Orleans Jazz. He is, in a sense, the curator of present-day New Orleans jazz itself.

Survivors include a sister Betty Allen Smith of Tennille, and a number of nieces and nephews.

The family will receive friends Monday from 1:00 until 2:00 at Moores Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Hogan Jazz Achive, 6801 Feret Street Room 304, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118-5682.

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