Rance began playing piano when he was seven and picked up the guitar two years later. He credits gospel giant James Cleveland as his main influence, but also names Ray Charles and Chuck Berry. The Rance Allen Group, with older brother Tom on drums and younger brother Steve on bass, made its first record in 1969. It was a self-penned song called "Let's Get Together and Love," released on the Reflect label which was operated by a Monroe music shop owner.
In 1971 the brothers won a Detroit gospel talent contest. The prize was $500. Veteran record promotion man Dave Clark, who was 71 years old at the time, was so impressed that he, along with Toby Jackson (Rance's current manager), booked a studio and, in less than four hours, cut an album. Rance has been overwhelming audiences across the country ever since with his exuberant stage demeanor and shattering vocals that slide up and down the scale into what San Francisco Chronicle critic Joel Selvin described as "upwards corners other singers have only heard about." Rance punctuates his delivery with deep growls and tour de force rhythmic scats.
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