Born Bobby Musgrove in 1932. No biographical data have been gathered except those skin-deep, D.J.s only biographical facts on the « not for sale » King issues.
His career began under his real name on the Kentucky label with with « Dollar sign heart » (#584) in 1954, when he returned from U.S. Army. It’s a very nice hillbilly bopper, pushed by a fine guitar. A very rare issue on the Audio Lab label, seemingly a part of the Carl Burkhardt’s empire of Kentucky/Gateway/4 Big hits cheap labels: Grove had an EP (thanks to Allan Turner to have unearthed and shared this scarce issue) of 4 tracks, one being penned by Walter Scott of « I’m walking out » (Ruby 100) fame. In 1956, he dropped his name to « Grove » on the King label, where he cut 4 records, all of whom are good hillbillies, the best are « No parking here » (# 4946), and the echoey (fast, almost rockabilly) « Whistle of the gravy train » (# 5007). Also worth of hearing: « I saw here first » (# 5027). He’d redone his Kentucky tune as « Dollar sign« . During the latter part of 1957 he had his last single on the Cincinnati new label Lucky, # 003 « Jealous dreams/Be still, my heart« . Again two fine bopping sides.
Bobby Grove reappeared later in 1962 as minister and cut many religious albums with much success (several shots on YouTube). That’s all I know about him.
1963 issue of a 1956 track
With thanks to Allan Turner and John Burton for the loan of rare label scans and mp3, the others taken from the web.
Although the STARDAY Record Company were not, by any means, the first to dabble with custom pressings, they became – almost fifty years later – one of the most famous and their vanity pressings are greatly sought after nowadays. What was originally a sideline to scrape a few bucks together, and add more songs to their growing music publishing portfolio, the “custom” or “vanity” business began to really flourish after 1956, when every Tom Crook, Lee Voorhies or Red Moore wanted to make a record of their own. The almost total lack of exposure left the vast majority of the releases dead in the water, but the artist could walk about, handing out his or her own record, a little like a vinyl business card.
Of course there were other companies competing for the custom-pressing dollar; RCA, COLUMBIA, and to a lesser extent CAPITOL, had extensive custom pressing services, even if sometimes the end product was marred by the use of recycled wax and an inferior sound quality. The Rite Pressing Co from Ohio were more prolific, but again the sound and the quality of the pressings was not always going to help anybody get airplay. STARDAY on the other hand, had many releases that have great sound. Sure, there are a few “bedroom” recordings – Plez Gary Mann for example, and a few that appear to have been recorded in the “outhouse” most notably the “Lo-Fi” Trice Garner release. However, on the whole the sound and recording quality always seemed a lot clearer than the competition, thus making airplay an easier bet. Of course, most of the artists couldn’t afford the deals involved in the payola scandal so it didn’t make much difference. (suite…)