His next big step was when drummer John Marshall got him his first major gig, with Soft Machine: "It was all down to playing; if I hadn't just kept playing I wouldn't have got half the gigs I did. Derek Wadsworth, the trombone player, told John Hiseman about me and that got me the gig with Tempest. Another time I had to sit in for Chuck Mangione at Ronnie Scott's - Chuck was ill; it was after I'd come back from my first stint in America - and Alphonso Johnson was on bass. Alphonse new [sic] that Tony Williams was looking for a guitarist for his band Lifetime, and because of that stand-in session he put my name forward and Tony asked if I'd like to go back to the States and join his band." Allan moved to California in the early eighties and has remained a resident since.
"Just before we moved to the Ritz there was one of those workshops - jazz workshops that came up into our area, and I went along and think it was Graham Collier. I can't remember... Geoff Castle, Ray Warleigh. I remember that. And they played and we asked a bunch of questions and then they said, ‘there's another one of these tomorrow and we're going to ask people to sit in.' So I thought, great, and so I took my guitar along and sat in with them on the next thing. And Ray remembered me ... oh, and Derek Wadsworth was there as well, the trombone player.
"And then just after that I hooked up with lan Carr, probably through the same thing - there were similar musicians working with lan Carr. The Jon Hiseman/Tempest thing came about in the same way, because someone, maybe Derek Wadsworth, had told him that they'd seen this guitar player and he wanted to know if I'd go along to his house for a play."