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POOVEY, ARNOLD JOSEPH [GROOVEY JOE]
Groovey Joe Poovey gained recognition as a rockabilly star in the mid-1950s. In the 1980s he brought his music to a new generation of rockabilly fans in Europe. Courtesy of Dragon Street Records, Inc.
POOVEY, ARNOLD JOSEPH [GROOVEY JOE] (1941–1998). Groovey Joe Poovey, disc jockey, guitarist, songwriter, and rockabilly singer, was born Arnold Joseph Poovey on May 10, 1941, in Dallas, Texas. He was the son of Bernice Arthor and Aligene (Tyler) Poovey. Joe, who embraced many nicknames in his career, was encouraged to become an entertainer by his father at age four. By age nine he was recording hillbilly music in a studio.
In 1953 he formed his own band, the Hillbilly Boys, and was performing on the broadcast country music show Big D Jamboree. A year later, he became the deejay known as Jumping Joe Poovey on the weekly radio show Hillbilly Lowdown. In 1955 he shared vocals with Earney Vandagriff in a recording of three Christmas-theme songs released by the Rural Rhythm label—"Be Bop Santa Claus," "Atomic Kisses," and "Santa's Helper," a song written by Poovey's father.
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That same year, after he first saw Elvis Presley perform, Poovey decided to drop the hillbilly sound and convert to rockabilly. He produced his first rockabilly record in 1957, the single "Move Around." He was given the nickname Groovey Joe Poovey by the deejay who introduced the song. A year later, with writer and producer Jim Shell as his writing partner, Poovey produced another hit, "Ten Long Fingers." He remained in the Dallas area as a local artist and as a disc jockey with the Big D Jamboree until its demise in 1960.
After that year, Poovey reverted to country music and began writing for such musicians as George Jones, Wynn Stewart, and Jimmy Patton. In 1966, under the name Johnny Dallas, he reached the Billboard chart with the hit "Heart Full of Love." Rather than producing follow-up hits, however, he worked full-time as a disc jockey in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. In 1975 Rollin' Rock Records released five previously unreleased songs that Poovey had produced in the 1950s. This helped reactivate his career, which he now pursued under the name Texas Joe Poovey. After "Ten Long Fingers" became a favorite among European fans, Poovey toured Europe in 1980 using his rockabilly style. He continued to record rockabilly material and performed throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
He died in his sleep of heart disease on October 6, 1998, and was buried in Grove Hill Memorial Park in Dallas. He was survived by his wife, Peggy (Mitchell) Poovey. A compilation album of his songs, entitled Greatest Grooves, was released on Dragon Street Records in 1999.
Craig Morrison, Go Cat Go: Rockabilly Music and Its Makers (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996). Rockabilly Hall of Fame: Groovey Joe Poovey (http://www.rockabillyhall.com/JoePoovey1.html), accessed November 12, 2011. Robert Wilonsky, “Legendary stardust cowboy: ‘Groovey Joe Poovey’ dies just as his Greatest Grooves are set for release, Dallas Observer, October 15, 1998 (http://www.dallasobserver.com/1998-10-15/music/legendary-stardust-cowboy/), accessed November 12, 2011.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, "Poovey, Arnold Joseph [Groovey Joe]," accessed February 23, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo69.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.