Austin City Limits was saddened to learn of the death of Sammy Allred, Austin radio DJ and one half of ACL three-timers the Geezinslaw Brothers. He was 84.
As noted in the May 10 Austin Chronicle, the Geezinslaws were one of “Austin’s first breakout acts,” with a career going back to the fifties and stints on the Louisiana Hayride with Elvis Presley. Allred and Dewayne “Son” Smith released twelve albums over the course of forty-plus years, starting in 1963 with The Kooky World of the Geezinslaw Brothers and concluding with 2005’s Eclectic Horseman. The duo scored via tunes like “Five Dollar Fine,” “I Wish I Had a Job to Shove,” “Help I’m White and I Can’t Get Down” and unique takes on classic tunes like the Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit” and Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Besides ACL, the band appeared on The Tonight Show, The Smothers Brothers Show and The Roger Miller Show. Meanwhile, Allred’s work in Austin radio spanned decades, including a long stint on KVET-AM that proved both contentious and beloved.
“To really appreciate Sammy Allred, you had to have a slightly – maybe very – warped sense of humor, which is probably why I considered him my favorite DJ of all,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “He also came to be a good friend in later years, and we had many laughs together. His on-air persona stirred some controversy, but as he often said, ‘That’s just a character’ (think: Stephen Colbert back in the day). As for the Geezinslaws, their fans loved them dearly, and there were many of them – in Austin and far beyond. They did their part to ‘Keep Austin Weird’ before it became a ubiquitous slogan. To borrow one of his favorite expressions (stolen from Fatty Arbuckle), ‘Choo-choo bug, Sammy…and goodnight, nurse.'”
Allred and the Geezinslaws appeared on ACL in 1982, 1986 and 1989. Here they are doing their distinctive version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”