Violist born Victor Allen Harshman in Venture, California, who was a member of Desi Arnaz’s orchestra in 1947, recording “Green Eyes (Aquellos Ojos Verdes)”, “The Peanut Vendor” and “Siboney”, which would later appear on the compact disc, Cocktail Hour.
In the 1950s, his career as a session musician really began to take off, on albums such as Bobby Darin’s This is Darin, Phineas Newborn’s While My Lady Sleeps, and The Frank Sinatra Story in Music Vol. 1.
In fact, he would go on to work with Sinatra steadily throughout his career. In 1960, he teamed up with longtime Sinatra stalwart Don Costa for The Sound of the Million Sellers, and another famous crooner from the era, Mel Torme, on Swingin’ on the Moon. He also participated on the Nat King Cole album, The Billy May Session, recorded from 1951 through 1961.
In 1962, he re-united with the Chairman of the Board on Frank Sinatra Conducts Music from Pictures and Plays, and joined Sam Cooke in the studio for “Nothing Can Change This Love” backed with “I’m Gonna Forget About You”. Another famous Sinatra recording he appeared on is “Luck Be A Lady”, recorded in 1963, a year that also saw him performing on the mouthful of an album, Mel Torme Sings Sunday in New York and Other Songs About New York. He also appeared on Torme’s LP, That’s All: A Lush Romantic Album, released in 1964.
In 1965, he was featured on Johnny Mandel’s album, The Sandpiper, and performed a pair of concerts with the Los Angeles String Quartet under the umbrella of the South Bay Chamber Music Society, Inc. The concerts were all-classical, featuring the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Franz Schubert.
In 1967, he was back in the world of pop on Nancy Wilson’s album, Welcome to My Love. He appeared on Frank Sinatra’s cover of the John Lennon-Paul McCartney composition, “Yesterday”, which was included on 1969’s My Way.
In 1970, he made a Magical Connection with Gabor Szabo. A couple of years later, he hooked up with singer-songwriter Paul Williams on Life Goes On. In 1973, he performed viola duties on Steve Ferguson’s self-titled album and performed on Lalo Schifrin’s soundtrack of Enter the Dragon.
He entered 1974 with Don Ellis on Haiku and Santana on Illuminations. In 1975, he recorded Collage with Luis Gasca, and appeared on Lesley Gore’s Love Me By Name, John Hiatt’s Overcoats, Peggy Lee’s Mirrors, Carmen McRae’s I Am Music, and The Tubes’ White Punks on Dope.
America’s bicentennial year found him a member of the strings on Milt Jackon’s Feelings, Harry Nilsson’s That’s the Way it Is, The Tubes’ Young and Rich, and Tom Waits’ Small Change. Around this time, he was also laying down tracks for Patty Weaver Sings “As Time Goes By”.
In 1977, he performed with Frankie Crocker as a member of The Heart and Soul Orchestra, Neil Diamond on I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight, George Duke on From Me to You, and recorded Finger Painting with Earl Klugh and Phantazia with Noel Pointer.
He set sail in 1978 for the Blue Virgin Isles with Ted Gardestad, offered a friendly hand on the Johnny Mathis-Deniece Williams love-fest, That’s What Friends Are For, appeared on Brasil ’88 with Sergio Mendes, and performed on the Lalo Schifrin soundtrack of Nunzio.
Allan was also a member of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, which was active from 1974 through 1979.
In 1979, he was in the studio with Lalo Schifrin again on Boulevard Nights and the soundtrack of The Amityville Horror.
He opened the new decade with Earth, Wind & Fire on their LPs, Faces and Raise!, released in 1980 and 1981, respectively. In 1981, he teamed up once again with Earl Klugh on Crazy for You and Jaco Pastorius on Word of Mouth. He also offered string support on Lionel Richie’s eponymous album in 1982.
In 1983, he collaborated with Stanley Clarke and George Duke on The Clarke/Duke Project II, Earth, Wind & Fire on Powerlight, and Lalo Schifrin on the soundtrack of the Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact. He visited 1100 Bel Air Place with Julio Iglesias in 1984, an album which featured the mega-hit, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”. In 1985, he appeared on the soundtrack of the Steven Spielberg film, The Color Purple.
His recording with Diane Schuur in 1986 was Timeless. That seems to be his last original recording, although there are myriad opportunities to hear him on CDs such as Jascha Heifetz’s Beethoven & Spohr: Chamber & Orchestral Works, The Greatest of Pleasure, and the Frank Sinatra retrospective, The Columbia Years 1943-1952: The Complete Recordings.
Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams recordings
Emotion (Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb)
S CBS 6164B (UK 45)
He performs here on “Tears” by Milt Jackson & Strings…