photo used with permission (http://www.anthemguy.fyrenet.com/)
The goatee. The shiny dome. The trademark "point". And most importantly, the voice that gets you riled up to watch some hockey. Doug Allen has cemented himself as a key component of Sabres hockey. He is the rare case of an anthem singer the fans actually look forward to hearing. As I found out though, Doug is more than just an anthem singer. He is a family man, proud Buffalonian, and all around great guy. I contacted Doug by email to see if he would answer a few questions, and he kindly agreed.
But first, some background info on Doug. From his website:
Born on a dairy farm in Cattaraugus county of Western New York, I grew up pulling weeds, picking beans, eating fresh corn on the cob, doing chores, and swimming in the farm pond. And one more thing, singing. I was always singing. Every Saturday my family would gather around the piano and learn a new song for Sunday at church. About the only times I didn't sing were when I was fishing and hunting, you had to be quiet, then the songs stayed in my head
Doug attended Gowanda High School and graduated in 1982. Immediately out of High School, Doug studied at Houghton College to be a music teacher. After getting into teaching however, Doug found that he yearned for a bigger stage ("I loved kids, hated teaching"). Following his stint as a teacher, Doug put together an impressive resume starring in community theater plays such as "West Side Story" and "My Fair Lady". It was in the early 90’s that Doug sent an audition tape to the Buffalo Sabres, which would begin his almost 20 year journey of singing the anthems before home games. I asked Doug a handful of questions about his experience doing the anthems, and his life away from the rink:
You started doing the anthems occasionally for the Sabres in 1992. How did it eventually become a full time gig?
During the lockout they called me around December to ask if I would consider doing all the games if they managed to salvage half the season. When it didn’t happen, they asked me to consider it for the next season [and I’ve been there ever since]
Certain players have superstitions before they take the ice. Do you follow any sort of routine before singing the anthems?
I do some vocal warm-ups in the penalty box. I also sing and hum to the radio on my drive to the arena. I usually bounce on my feet to the song they play just before I go out. It helps build my energy. I also thank God for giving me such a cool gig!
At this point, you must be up to almost 1000 times singing the anthems. Do you ever get sick of them?
Not as of yet. I love making people happy, whether I’m telling a joke, cooking for family and friends, taking pictures with fans, or singing to start a hockey game. [It’s great knowing] I just made all the Sabres fans happy.
What happens when the lights come up and the anthems are over? Do you stick around to watch the game? Would you consider yourself a "die hard" Sabres fan?
I do love to watch the games. I will stick around for the first period so I can meet fans and watch some of the game to see how the team is playing, but then I go home. It is more important to me to be a dad with my family than to stay and watch a game. When I’m watching a game though, you can’t tell the difference between me and most others in the arena…except for the tux!!
Sabres fans know where to find you the night of almost every home game around 7:00 or so, but what’s an average day in the life of Doug Allen like away from the rink? Is singing the anthems a full time job?
Monday through Friday I work for the City Mission in Buffalo. I do maintenance and housekeeping. I have worked for the City Mission for 21 years. For 15 hours a week I am on staff at Fellowship Wesleyan Church in West Seneca. Every Sunday you can hear me singing and leading worship for two services. I also direct our holiday choirs and programs – anything to do with music.
Any message to the fans?
I am amazed at the response I get from fans at the introduction. I’ll always be just a guy who loves to sing, and loves my country. I think about the sacrifices made at the birth of our anthem, and I am humbled and grateful for what they did so we could live the way we do today.
I’d like to thank Doug for graciously taking some time out of his busy schedule to field some questions. For more info on Doug, and for information on requesting him to sing at your next event or function, head on over to his website. I will let Doug take care of the sign off:
Cue the music. I am Douglas Allen, Anthem Guy. Just your average nut. Some assembly required, batteries not needed, just my morning vitamins and orange juice. Lots of orange juice.