Bobby Grove, Ohio hillbilly (1954-1957): Kentucky, Audio Lab, King, Lucky labels.

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.

 

Starday « custom series » (1953-1960) : an introduction – how did a flourishing small label to operate on custom releases

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…)

Kentucky records (1952-1955): Cincinnati Hillbilly

BURKHARDT, CARL Carl Burkhardt was the owner of Rite Records in Cincinnati, the parent company for Kentucky, Gateway, Big 4, Big 6, Arc, Deresco, Worthmore, and others.  The operation started as a radio repair shop and record store at 3930 Spring Grove Avenue in the Knowlton’s Corner area of Cincinnati in 1940.  They began pressing records there but eventually moved to the Evendale area, where their building was across Interstate 75 from the GE Plant and could be seen from the highway.  In this location they added a studio, pressing plant, and printing presses, so they could do everything in house.  In 1955 a custom pressing division was opened to manufacture records for anyone who wanted to record and had the money to pay for it.  This continued until 1985, and in that span of time, Rite did custom pressing on approximately 21,000 different singles, most of which were country, bluegrass, or gospel.  During its existence, Rite produced 78 rpms, 45 rpms, and some LPs. (suite…)