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Gary Allan was born Dec. 5, 1967, in Montebello, Calif., with the name Gary Herzberg. He was raised in La Mirada, Calif., and in his teens, he began to play the honky-tonk circuit. After turning down a record deal while still in high school, Allan eventually signed to Decca Records in 1996. Two singles from his tenure there reached the Top 10: "Her Man" in 1996 and "It Would Be You" in 1998. When Decca folded into MCA Nashville, Allan followed, releasing the album Smoke Rings in the Dark in 1999. The smoldering title track and "Right Where I Need to Be" propelled the album to platinum status. Keeping his trademark traditional sound intact, the 2001 album Alright Guy offered two more hits, "The One" and "Man to Man."
Despite his numerous hits, Allan was nominated for the CMA Horizon award -- given to newcomers -- in 2003. That same year, he released the album See If I Care, with the hits "Tough Little Boys" and "Songs About Rain."
In 2004, Allan's wife committed suicide. Rather than retreat, he issued the album Tough All Over in 2005, earning a Top 10 hit with "Best I Ever Had" and the best reviews of his career. He spent much of 2006 touring with Rascal Flatts, playing for more than a million fans.