In the 69 years since Rex Allen Jr. made his first appearance on stage, he has been applauded, acknowledged and awarded.

He made his debut at The Bluebird Café at a special Western night in August just three weeks before turning 76. The Nashville Nightlife Dinner Theater spotlighted his songwriting and the stories behind the songs on a lineup in June. During this year’s CMA Fest he performed at the Country With Heart concert.

In 2015 he was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award by the National Traditional Country Music Association, quite appropriately honoring a hardworking, multitalented singer, narrator, producer, writer and actor.

Yet, in the hours before accepting his award to a standing ovation at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa, Allen was clear on what had been his greatest achievement.

“My children,” he said of his three sons without hesitation. “The greatest moments in my life were when they were born.”

Grown now with college degrees, successful careers and families of their own, the Allen boys and their father remain close, just as Allen was with his own father, The Arizona Cowboy Rex Allen, who taught Allen how to approach his own avocation.

“My father said there are three types of people in this business,” Allen intimated to Country Reunion Magazine in a 2015 exclusive interview. “Those who are singers. Those who are entertainers. And those who are singers that are entertainers. That’s what you want to be. A singer is only as hot as his last record. An entertainer will always have a job.”

It wasn’t just a famous father that inspired Rex Jr. to take up his guitar and hit the road as an entertainer at age 7. Allen’s mother was Bonnie Linder, one half of the Linder Sisters, Connie and Bonnie, known for their regular performances on Barn Dance, broadcast from WLS in Chicago.

“My mother was a bigger star than my father,” Allen laughed, adding, “My mother was making $1,000 per week in 1945.”

Allen said he had the benefit of two parents who could help him learn to play the guitar, and he often gravitated to his mother, who died in 2007, for musical instruction.

“She was a better musician than my dad,” he observed, “but she quit the business when she got married.”

The careers of both Rex Sr., who died in 1999, and Rex Jr. embodied the family’s philosophy that entertainment is a business, and diversification means continued relevance and survival.

“My dad primed me for everything,” Allen said. “I never knew I was going to be anything other than an entertainer…I had a role model I could watch. He taught me well.”

Allen recalled his father bringing in a newspaper and instructing him to use it in learning to read copy for yet another way to use his beautiful singing voice, which over the years has brought him more than 50 top 50 hits.

“During my time behind a microphone, I have recorded between 800 and 1,000 songs from every kind of music – country, western, rock, adult, jazz and big band,” Allen said. “No music was safe from my ear and I always felt there was nothing I couldn’t sing.”

Rex Sr.’s vocal talents expanded and extended his career as he became the recognizable and trusted voice behind Disney characters, national brand products and major theatrical productions. Rex Jr. followed suit and has been the voice behind numerous commercials, shows and the Jim Carey movie, “Me, Myself and Irene.”

Both he and his father were inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame and the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame, which are just two of the many recognitions each of the Allens garnered.

While his father lived and worked in various U.S. cities, Rex Jr. remained primarily a Western artist. Allen’s journeys, however, included more than 25 years in Nashville before moving to Las Vegas in 1998 to assume duties as V.P. of Entertainment for Coast Resorts. He built the showroom at the Orleans Hotel, writing and producing the first big show there – a Branson-style extravaganza called “Gone Country.” He remained in Las Vegas until a decade ago when he returned to Nashville, where family and friends surround him.

“The business has changed, but that does not mean I’ve stopped,” he told Country Reunion Magazine in 2015. “I’m having more fun, and I’m doing so much of it at home.”

Allen pointed out that there are very few music videos available that feature performers from the pre-MTV or pre-CMT era. He has learned to extract video from old productions, especially from the singing cowboy movies but also from appearances by his contemporaries. He has posted some 800 of these clips online in honor of these musicians and in an effort to share their music with other generations. These are found at

Generations are important to Allen. He’s comforted that his first American ancestor was one of two Allen brothers who came to South Carolina more than two centuries ago on a land grant from King George, promptly sold it and bought land in Sumner County, Tennessee, near present-day Nashville. Subsequent generations settled in the Southwest.

“One of my first memories is going to Rex Allen Days with my dad,” Allen recalled, referring to the annual event held for the past 72 years in the elder Allen’s hometown of Willcox, Ariz.

Allen returns there each year to celebrate not only his father’s legacy but his family’s relationship with the region, perhaps captured best in his love song, “I Love You Arizona,” penned for a woman and adopted as one of Arizona’s state songs.

As for future generations, he has taught his grandchildren guitar lessons.

“My granddaughter is five and is already writing songs,” he said with pride in 2015 “And without even any knowledge of it, she writes in meter…writes melodies and everything else. It’s amazing to watch. What a miracle.”

Allen said he believes talent is genetic, but there must be a desire to develop it.

“You have to work at it,” he said. “You may be the greatest guitar player in the world, but you can’t get there unless you work at it.”

During the 2015 Country Reunion interview, Allen said he had no plans to stop singing, songwriting and recordings.

When Allen was a child, he inadvertently insulted his grandfather by asking when the aging man was going to retire.

“You don’t retire, son,” his grandfather said, testily. “You just do a little less every year.”

However, on Oct. 7, 2017, he officially retired from the road after performing where his career began in Willcox, Arizona, at Rex Allen Days.

“My singing career began there in 1954 at Rex Allen Days with my dad,” he said. “It’s great that I can end where I began!”

Then in July 2023, after recording more than 30 albums, he released his final one, “For the Last Time.”

“Thanks to so many friends, I have had a wonderful career,” he said. “So many accolades, but it is time for me to hang up the guitars and see the world from the other side of the footlights. I have been fortunate to travel all over the world singing my songs, but there comes a time to take one last bow and move to the next part of my life.”


In the 69 years since Rex Allen Jr. made his first appearance on stage, he has been applauded, acknowledged and awarded.

This copyrighted story by Claudia Johnson was originally published in Country Reunion Magazine and Country Reunion News.