My best friend Duane Allen passed away on this day, thirteen years ago on May 7, 2003. I write about my friend twice a year, on this day and on his birthday in October. This gentle giant of a man took this naïve young white privileged kid and taught me about life. I thank God that he put Duane in my life and I think anyone who was fortunate enough to know him would testify to the love they have for this great man.
Knowing that my scripture reflection would include Duane, Psalm 47: 2-3 brought a big smile to me as I read…
All you peoples, clap your hands;
shout to God with cries of gladness.
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
Duane and I were music partners for 25 years playing in some pretty impressive places as well as some pretty low-down “dives” during our career. I can hear him saying, “Come on everybody, put your hands together” so I will just add that by using his God-given talent as a singer and entertainer, God was given the glory by the joy Duane brought to the people! We were known as “The Light and Dark of Soul”, “Just the Two of Us” and “Duane and Mike” during the years we sang together.
When you talk about God-given talent, Duane used his in amazing ways. Not only a nightclub entertainer, Duane started in high school as one of the city and county’s great all-American athletes. It lead him to college and then to play professional football for the Los Angeles Rams as a rookie in 1961 and had a 7 year career with a few teams.
He also became a professional wrestler as well as an actor with parts in the movies “Mandingo”, “Tango and Cash”, “Ghostbusters 2” and “Roadhouse”.
But with all the talent he was given, Duane was thankful and humble and would help anyone in need. He taught me how to appreciate what you have and not to be afraid to work. We both coached in high school and I watched a great man give, in generosity, his love and experience to help God’s children grow to make this world a better place.
My hope is in you Lord Jesus that in your great love and mercy, Duane is before you, singing and clapping his hands with shouts and cries of gladness for you O Lord the Most High, most Awesome and the Great King over all the earth! Please dear Jesus, take care of my friend Duane Allen, his wife Kazon and his son Duane Jr. Amen.