Marshall Allen will be 92 years old in May. The last living link to Birmingham’s Herman Poole Blount, better known as Sun Ra, Allen carries on the Sun Ra Arkestra to honor its namesake, his mentor and friend.
The two men didn’t meet until after Blount had reinvented himself as his extraterrestrial alter ego. Following his childhood in Birmingham and matriculation from Industrial High School, a segregated school that is now Parker High School, Blount spent time as a working musician in the Magic City before attending Alabama A&M. He studied music, but dropped out after one year.
Blount claimed to have visited Saturn after his departure from school, marking the birth of his persona. He dodged the draft in 1942 and consequently spent time in the Walker County Jail. Continue reading