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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Bobby Gregory born 24 April 1900

Bobby Gregory,(b.24 April 1900, Staunton, VA, USA. d. 12 May 1971, Nashville, TN) was a songwriter, accordionist, composer, author and singer, a former cowboy, lumberjack, sailor, and circus and rodeo musician. He led the Cactus Cowboys band, and made many recordings. Joining ASCAP in 1940, his popular-song compositions include "Little Darlin'", "Am I Dreaming?", "Sunny Side of the Mountain", "Riding on the Old Ferris Wheel", "She's Only a Moonshiner's Daughter", "I'd Love to Be a Cowboy, but I'm Afraid of Cows", and "Ramblin' Hobo".

"The Sunny Side of the Mountain" certainly turned out to be a popular location for country and bluegrass performers; it's one of the best-known co-writing ventures of Bobby Gregory, a performer and bandleader as well as songwriter whose career in the '20s, '30s and '40s spanned the genres of Tin Pan Alley and country & western. The man is wearing a cowboy hat on the cover of Bobby Gregory's Jumbo Song Folio Number 10, and he led a band called Bobby Gregory & His Cactus Cowboys, whose vintage reissue on the Cactus label is proof -- if the label's hype can be believed -- that the man "belongs to the more important figures of country music history!" Here's "Cherokee Rag".

The preceding quote, worded somewhat awkwardly as it is, makes it sound as if Gregory was some kind of a man-slave for Hank Snow. In reality, his output cannot even be said to belong exclusively to the country genre, He came from a generation of performers to whom sentimental, so-called cowboy songs -- many of them managing to bring forth an even larger flood of tears than country & western hits --
were an important part of the overall pop songwriting scene. One of Gregory's most successful collaborators was performer and songwriter Vernon Dalhart, who after performing opera among other vocal traditions, began pumping out ballads with as Western a flavor as a bowl of Cookie's famous cowboy stew. Gregory could also pump, supposedly helping write between 1500 and 2000 songs depending on who is counting. As a recording artist he may have cut as many as 350 titles on a dozen labels.

The sides cut by Gregory and his outfit of course come out of the connected cowboy, hillbilly and hobo modes, and include "She's Only a Moonshiner's Daughter," "Cowgirl Polka," "Cowboy Rag," "Cryin' Hobo," "Yodelin' Hobo," "The Hungry Hobo," and "The Sagebrush Waltz." Gregory's songwriting credits lead to genres in which suit and tie, not hat and spurs, were the normal on-stage attire. Tommy Dorsey recorded
"Am I Dreaming," a collaboration with record producer Joe Davis and bandleader Charles Dornberger.

Gregory made some 26 movies, and appeared on the Roy Rogers network TV show. He was also credited as having been the first accordion player ever to appear on radio, in 1927. He also performed for years with stage shows, rodeo and the vaudeville circuits. Among his partners along the way were Roy Rogers, Hank Snow, Smiley Burnette and the Lone Ranger. In the 1950’s, Gregory opened an art gallery in New York City. He later moved it to Nashville.

Gregory, 71, died in Nashville, Tennessee, following a long bout with cancer.

(Info various but mainly from Eugene Chadbourne's bio)

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