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Subdudes Co-Founder Johnny Ray Allen Dies at 56

Johnny Ray Allen (at right), Credit: East West Records

Johnny Ray Allen, founding bassist and songwriter for the Subdudes, has died at age 56. The cause wasn’t immediately known, though Allen had a heart condition. Allen’s wife said he was found dead in bed on Friday morning.

Allen wrote or co-wrote most of the groundbreaking New Orleans-born Americana group’s songs from its 1987 founding through an original breakup in 1996. He wasn’t part of a later incarnation that lasted from 2002-11, but had recently returned for an on-going tour with fellow founding members Tommy Malone, Steve Amedee and John Magnie — one which had already included a stop at the House of Blues during the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

Martha Allen, his wife, told NOLA.com that Johnny Ray had been “delighted” by the long-hoped-for reunion. Other than a short-lived band called Tiny Town with Malone, he left the music business behind following his split with the Subdudes. Allen founded a construction company, and had been involved with real estate development. “He had a nice renaissance,” Martha added. “He hadn’t been paying enough attention to his creative side, I don’t think, for years, and it was a nice surprise for him.”

The Subdudes had a series of dates scheduled in Colorado and California through September, with a return engagement in New Orleans at Tipitina’s on September 26. Plans were also in the works for new music. No word yet on whether the tour will continue.

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