It’s time to let the legends of country music take you on their journey back stage Ireland’s country scene in a six part series of the RTE Archive Unit. The series begins with the story of TR Dallas, the singer who modelled his career on the 80’s hottest soap star, JR Ewing.
Tom Allen came from the musical Allen family in Moate. He played with local bands and then got a break with the ‘The Fine Avons’ from Castleblayney. He was with them from 1970 – 1972. He was the singer in this band. Later when Big Tom left the ‘The Mainliners’ Tom Allen went for an interview for the job. However, his big break was yet to come.
In the early part of 1980 the TV series ‘Dallas’ was hugely popular. ‘Dallas’ madness swept the country and reached fever pitch when in a cliffhanger episode JR Ewing was shot just before the series ended for the summer on RTE. Tom Allen and his manager, now fellow politician, Donnie Cassidy took advantage of the ‘Dallas’ craze by launching a single on the Late Late Show called ‘Who Shot JR’ which roughly coincided with the cliffhanger episode (May/June ’80). Tom Allen was re-launched and re branded – his stage name became TR Dallas and he started to wear a cowboy hat! During that summer the single got huge airplay both in Ireland and in Britain and everyone was talking about it. The song made it into the top 100 in Britain though. Building on this success Tom (now TR!) released his first album – ‘It’s Hard to be Humble’ in the autumn of 1980. The album included ‘Who Shot JR’. The title track on this album also did very well and this album became the bestselling country album of 1980.
TR’s second album was ‘Everyone’s making it Big but Me’. He recorded this album in 1981 and released it in 1982. It included his biggest hit ever – ‘Daddy’s Girl’. According to TR – ‘Daddy’s Girl’ is still the most requested song on local radio in Ireland. Two of the tracks on this album were recorded in Nashville – ‘Kisses on the Door’ and ‘Whiskey Castles’. The next album he did was ‘Solid Gold’ (1983/’84), the three biggest songs on this album were: ‘Big Tom Doesn’t Play Here Anymore’, ‘The Last One to Touch Me’ and ‘Candle-light and Wine’.
In 1990 he brought out a single ’21 Acres of Land’. Around this time TR got sick while performing in the UK. He ended up in hospital quite seriously ill with diabetes. He claims religion helped him through it all. He still performs but now with his other jobs as auctioneer and now member of West Meath Council as Councillor Allen.
He also got a chance to perform with the legendary Johnny Cash in Wembley.