The Story of Allan Wingate a.k.a. Allen Page
Cordell Jackson's Moon record label, and in particular Jackson herself, became a cult phenomenon in 1980s Memphis. And the label's most prolific recording artist was Allen Page, who has - unfortunately - found little acclaim since his records came out in the 1950s. However, he probably would have dismissed it being celebrated as a rockabilly hero as he became a preacher under his real name Allen Wingate. From the 1960s onwards, he found his satisfaction in traveling around the country and preaching the gospel.
Many other artists that recorded in Memphis during the 1950s and early 1960s came from the rural areas of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. In contrast, Allen Lamar Wingate, to give him his full name, came from the city of Tampa, located on the sunny west coast of Florida. There, he was born on August 14, 1936. His mother Corrine Elizabeth Eiland would not marry his father Woodroow Wingate until about a month after Wingate's birth. Though, the relationship broke up soon after and they divorced a year later. During World War II, Wingate's mother worked at Tampa's ship yard to support the family. She had married Glen Burnside, whom she divorced in 1945, however.
In 1956, Wingate moved to Memphis, which was the place to be for rock'n'roll music. By then, he was probably already married to his wife Joann. Their oldest son James had already been born and Allen Lamar jr. followed in October 1956. By then, Wingate had started performing in Memphis night clubs under the name of "Allen Page" and had taken up composing songs with his wife, too. It was probably around the same time that he went into Memphis' Sun Studio and auditioned. A demo tape entitled "What Else Could I Do" with Wingate on vocals and guitar, backed up by upright bass and electric guitar, has survived. However, the audition went nowhere. Though, two of the songs Wingate and his wife had written were recorded by Ernie Barton in March 1958 for Phillips Int., "Stairway to Nowhere" and "Raining the Blues".
Following his unsuccessful Sun audition, Wingate came to the attention of Cordell Jackson, a pioneering woman in music business who had founded her own record label Moon Records shortly before. Wingate recorded his debut "Honeysuckle" b/w "High School Sweater" (Moon #301), both penned by him and Joann, in 1957 but without much success. This was not because Wingate wasn't talented; Moon Records was a local Memphis business without proper distribution and the recordings itself were too provincial for the national market. The record had enough exposure to stir a cover version, though: "High School Sweater" was recorded a couple of months later by Arkansas born singer Kenny Owens.
Cordell Jackson obviously had faith in the young singer, as she produced a total of four singles on him and the first three we released straight in a row. All of them were first-class Memphis rock'n'roll but none of them caught on. His "She's the One That Got It" was written by him for his wife. While Wingate was a talented songwriter and composed most of his recorded material on his own, he also cut Cordell Jackson's "Dateless Night" and "Oh! Baby". The latter, along with "I Wish You Were Wishing" (a song he recorded twice for Moon), was released on Moon #307 in 1960 and became not only Wingate's final single on the label but also the label's last release altogether. He had cut it with the Big Four, a group that had also recorded in its own right for Moon.
|Billboard June 13, 1960, pop review
By then, it had become obvious that Wingate's moment to reach stardom as a rock'n'roll artist had passed. The hard-driving rockabilly that was produced under Cordell Jackson's supervision had definitely gone out of fashion by 1960. Wingate was heavy on alcohol, cigarettes and drugs by 1963 but one night in August that year, he found faith and - in his own memories - never touched any of it again. He became an evangelist and with companions like brothers Billy and Tommy Brown, spent much of the 1960s traveling the country and preaching the word of God. Billy Brown, who was also from Florida and had embarked on a country and rock'n'roll music career much like Wingate, had experienced similar set-backs and had drifted into alcoholism. He later told stories of such miracles as deaf ears opened, blind eyes could see, immediate healing, etc., that occurred while traveling with Wingate. Besides traveling the United States, Wingate's extended tours also took him to Canada, Mexico, and Panama.
|Joann and Allen Wingate, ca. 1978
Taken from the back of their album "Beyond the Sunset"
Back to the music. Wingate recorded a four song EP of uptempo country gospel, including a version of Hank Williams' "I Saw the Light", in 1965. An accompanying LP was released simultaneously with more cuts. For a while, the Wingate family lived in Sharonville, near Cincinnati, Ohio, where a couple of recordings were made with his wife and his son James. Eventually, much of his family would take part in his recordings. At least two more LPs followed in the 1970s, which make up a total of four albums by Wingate known to me. Probably more recordings were done throughout the years and released on LP or cassette.
Wingate settled his family in the fall of 1975 in New Smyrna Beach, on the east coast of Florida, where he founded the New Smyrna Beach Church of God and served the community as its pastor until his death. Allen Wingate passed away on April 26, 1993, in his adopted hometown of New Smyrna Beach. He is buried at Sea Pines Memorial Gardens in Edgewater, Florida. He was survived by his wife Joann as well as eight children and 22 grandchildren.Since 1975, Wingate's rock'n'roll recordings were re-released consequently in Europe. Collector Records released two of his Moon recordings that year on the "Super Rock a Billy, Part A" LP and since then, Wingate's songs have been reissued numerous times, including on LPs and CDs put out by Moon Records. Wingate's take on "I Saw the Light" saw also release on the 2018 "Hillbillies in Hell" compilation.
Allan Wingate performs "I've Found a Better Way" at the
Belleview, Mississippi, Church of God, ca.1980s
Moon 301: Allen Page and the Crowns with the Moon Beams - Honeysuckle / High School Sweater (1957)
Moon 302: Allen Page with the Deltones - I Wish You Were Wishing / Dateless Night (1958)
Moon 303: Allen Page - She's the One That's Got It / Sugar Tree (1958)
Moon 307: Allen Page with Sandy and Sue and the Big Four - I Wish You Were Wishing / Oh! Baby (1960)
No label No.#: Evangelist Allen Wingate - It's Different Now / I'm Counting On Jesus / I Saw the Light / At Calvary (1965)
No label No.#: Evangelist Allen Wingate - Beyond the Sunset: Songs from Me for You (1965)
The Evening Light No.#: Allen and Joann Wingate - He Set Me Free (1974)
The Evening Light No.#: Allen Wingate and the Family of God Singers - That Old Fashioned Salvation (1978)
Unknown label No.#: Allen Wingate Family Singers - All for His Glory
• 45cat entry
• Rate Your Music
• Discogs entries for Allen Page and Allen Wingate
• Find a Grave entry
• Rockin' Country Style entry
• Gospel Jubilee entry
• Information on Corrine Elizabeth (Eiland) Wingate on WikiTree
• Allen Lamar Wingate, Jr., obituary
• That's All Rite Mama: Evangelist Allen Wingate
• Various Wingate family members commented on Youtube videos of Allen Wingate's gospel recordings. Thanks for the information provided!