“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Castilian Springs in Sumner County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)

Bill "Hoss" Allen


— Tennessee Music Pathways —

Bill “Hoss” Allen Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, April 11, 2021
1. Bill “Hoss” Allen Marker
Pioneering rhythm and blues (R&B) and gospel disc jockey Bill Allen, known as “Hoss” or “Hossman,” worked in radio for more than 40 years. During the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Allen’s nightly shows on WLAC Nashville played a pivotal role in broadening the base of R&B and soul music. He also created a television series, “The !!!! Beat,” featuring many of the top R&B stars of the 1960s. Later, Allen hosted a long-running gospel radio show.

Although Allen worked almost exclusively with African American music, he was white. William Trousdale Allen III was born in Gallatin on Dec. 3, 1922. Brought up in his grandfather’s household, Allen was introduced to African American gospel music by the family’s maid, who took him to her church. His nickname came from his grandfather who called him “My hoss and saddle.” Allen attended Vanderbilt University in 1941 and ‘42 before joining a USO (United Service Organizations) band as a drummer during World War II. He resumed classes at Vanderbilt after the war, but left in September 1948 to be an announcer on Gallatin’s new local station, 1,000-watt WHIN.

On April 10, 1949, Allen moved to
Bill “Hoss” Allen Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, April 11, 2021
2. Bill “Hoss” Allen Marker
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Nashville’s 50,000 watt clear channel station, WLAC. He sold airtime and ran promotions, occasionally filling in for another white R&B disc jockey, Gene Nobles. After Nobles’ retirement in 1955, Allen took over WLAC's nighttime slot. The station’s signal reached from Alaska to Jamaica. Allen’s delivery and choice of music led many listeners to assume he was African American. He developed cross-cultural appeal, building a strong following for R&B among white teenagers.

Among the artists Allen helped to launch were James Brown and Otis Redding, and several artists cited Allen’s influence, including Bob Sefer, The Band, and Waylon Jennings. Allen developed or adopted catchphrases for his sponsors, including “It’s git down time,” which became a part of vernacular speech.

In 1960, after the Congressional Payola Investigations began limiting the freewheeling climate that had prevailed in radio, Allen took a job with Chess Records, working in record production and promotion. In 1963, WLAC asked him to return to host a nighttime gospel show.

Allen participated in several business ventures outside radio. He was a partner in Nashville’s Pro-Sound Studios and founded several record labels. He promoted concerts, and, most memorably, he hosted and booked 26 episodes of “The !!!! Beat.” Filmed in Dallas, it was designed for syndication, but failed to attract
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sponsors. The featured artists included Etta James, Freddie King, Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, and Sam and Dave, as well as veterans such as Louis Jordan.

After a change of ownership, WLAC canceled Allen’s shows in 1978. He began working for an independent Nashville television station, WZTV, but returned to WLAC in February 1980.

Allen continued hosting his gospel show on WLAC until 1993. By then, he had the only non-talk show on the station. He died in Feb. 25, 1997.

In 1994, Allen, together with two other pioneering WLAC disc jockeys, were inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2010, Allen was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Erected 2021 by Tennessee Music Pathways.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicCommunications. In addition, it is included in the Tennessee Music Pathways series list. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1980.
Location. 36° 23.903′ N, 86° 19.273′ W. Marker is in Castilian Springs, Tennessee, in Sumner County. Marker can be reached from Hartsville Pike (Tennessee Route 25) 0.2 miles west of Old Tennessee Route 25, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Castalian Springs TN 37031, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker
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. Abraham “Abram” Bledsoe (a few steps from this marker); Bledsoe's Fort Historical Park (a few steps from this marker); A Frontiersman Settles in the Wilderness (a few steps from this marker); Fighting for a Way of Life (a few steps from this marker); Rogana (a few steps from this marker); Hugh Rogan (within shouting distance of this marker); Bledsoe's Lick (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Capt. Horace Lawson Hunley (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Castilian Springs.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 26, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2021, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. This page has been viewed 192 times since then and 103 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 12, 2021, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Nov. 27, 2022