In the professional world, as in life, there are some things that are meant to be.
And others that just sort of happen.
In the case of country singer Gary Allan’s longstanding relationship with the PBR, it’s a combination of both.
It was six years ago when former PBR CEO Randy Bernard was spending time in Nashville when a friend introduced him to Steve Forde.
Forde was a retired bull rider and bareback bronc rider from Australia, who had come to Nashville to pursue a career as a country singer. The one-time roughrider was entertaining Bernard and a few their mutual friends on a houseboat near Hendersonville, just north of Nashville, when he pointed out Allan’s waterfront property.
Bernard mentioned he’d like to meet him.
Forde made the call and a short time later Allan joined them on the water.
“He was like, ‘Hey man, I have the head of the whole PBR out here if you want to come meet him,’” recalled Allan. “I took a jet ski out there with my fiddle player and chatted him up for a while.”
“Him and I hit it off and started BSing,” Bernard added, “and that’s how our relationship began.”
Neither one mentioned anything business related that afternoon.
In fact, the only time they talked about the PBR was when Bernard told Allan about a woman, who had come to several Built Ford Tough Series event, claiming to be Allan’s mother Mary.
Bernard asked, “Is it true?”
“Oh yeah,” Allan replied, “My mom’s a huge bull riding fan.”
Allan added, “A lot of the connection was my mom. … She’s always at the (World) Finals and stuff like that. She watches every Sunday and loves that my song is on there, so it was a good connection for me in a lot of ways.”
Allan went to the houseboat when he heard Bernard was out there in part because of his mom’s interest in the sport, but in a large way it was because he had long since felt there was a common bond between what he does on stage and his audience with what the PBR is about — high impact entertainment from start to finish — and its wildly popular fan base.
However, it wasn’t until Bernard called Allan that the two entities came together.
That connection began in earnest five months later.
Bernard called to see if Allan, who was getting ready to release his eighth studio album “Get Off on the Pain,” would be interested in performing a pre-event concert prior to the first Iron Cowboy Invitational, in Arlington, Texas, at Cowboys Stadium.
“I mean, when we left,” said Bernard, referring to the 2009 houseboat party, “I’m sure we both had this feeling of we were going to do business together.”
“Yeah, I did know there was a big connection that should be had,” Allan agreed, “and I knew we were going to find it. I guess I had it in the back of my mind. I knew it was a good connection to get. I felt like it was good for both of us.
“I was good to come together.”
In February 2010, the Iron Cowboy Invitational was the first in a series cross promotions involving Allan and the PBR.
Allan then recorded a video for the title track of “Get Off on the Pain,” at a BFTS event, in Pueblo, Colorado. Naturally the video featured Mary’s favorite bull rider Guilherme Marchi.
In turn, the song was used as the opening track to the weekly television broadcast.
Allan, who has sold more than 7 million albums worldwide, then performed in conjunction with the World Cup event, in Las Vegas, as well as the Last Cowboy Standing event two years ago. He will be in Vegas again this May for Last Cowboy Standing and will headline the second of three nights being billed as Cowboy Spring Break.
Allan’s performance at the MGM will be Saturday, May 23, at 10 p.m.
“It’s something I would go to,” said Allan, who noted the elaborate production of special PBR events is as exciting for him as it is the fans.
Speaking of which, he added, “When you get in there and they’re not all your fans, it’s fun to have them be your fans by the time you leave.”
Asked what he thought the common bond was, Bernard explained, “I think he writes from the heart with passion and he lays it all out there, just like the bull riders. I mean, ‘Get Off on the Pain,’ that was written for bull riding.”
“Our music definitely has an edge,” Allan said, “and there’s definitely an edge to bull riding.”
“…My whole life I been picking fights / there ain’t no way to win / got a hundred scars I should have run away / now tattooed on my skin / there’s a side of me that just won’t stop / dancin’ in the flame / maybe I just get off on the pain…
“…Cause I loved the long shot / and the left out lost causes / hanging out in the back of the pack with the dark horses / I ride the wrong road just as fast as I can / God knows there’s no one else to blame / sometimes I think I get off on the pain…”
Bernard added, “That can relate to anything you have anguish on or pain with and it’s just a great song.”
He’s scored four No. 1 hit singles – “Man to Man,” “Tough Little Boys,” “Nothing on but the Radio” and “Watching Airplanes” – along with recognizable cuts like “Best I Ever Had” and “Right Where I Need to Be.”
Last month he released “Hangover Tonight,” which is from his forthcoming studio album due out later this year.
Allan said there’s a realism to his lyrics.
It’s purposeful and the same reason he grew up listening to Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.
“I love that stuff,” Allan said. “I love country music. I love the heart-wrenching stuff. To me that’s — I’m a very lyric-driven person, so just about all my songs will have some kind of meaning to them.”
More recently the PBR began using “Bones” in place of “Pain” as the opening title track to its weekly television broadcasts on both CBS Sports Network and CBS.
However, Allan let slip that he’s working on yet another song.
“Yeah, I’m going to try and write them another one,” said Allan, laughing.
“The two songs that we use for that, they weren’t singles and they’re like singles in my shows, so I know that that’s where (the audience knows them) from.”
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