#228 – The Journey From Junk Food Junkie to Mountain Stage

Larry Groce’s career is quite an interesting and intriguing story. He attended high school with future recording artists Michael Martin Murphey, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and BW Stevenson. He became a regular performer at an NYC Upper West Side restaurant owned by Melissa Manchester’s husband, and went on to record 9 albums and 36 tunes for Disney featuring children’s songs including, when in 1976 he wrote “Pooh for President” for Disney to be released at Sears Stores.

In 1976, his satiric novelty song “Junk Food Junkie” became a Billboard top-ten hit, and led to appearances on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, American Bandstand, The Midnight Special, The Rich Little Show, Nashville Now, The Disney Channel, Dr. Demento, and A Prairie Home Companion.

In 1983, Groce co-founded Mountain Stage, a two-hour live music program produced by West Virginia Public Radio and distributed nationally and internationally by NPR and Voice of America’s satellite radio service to over 200 stations. He is its host, producer and artistic director. His musical tastes have been instrumental in defining the sound of the show. Mountain Stage was the first nationally broadcast radio or television program to feature live performances by Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Alison Krauss, Ani DiFranco, Phish, Counting Crows, Ben Harper, Ryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Ben Harper, Lucinda Williams, David Gray, and The Avett Brothers. The show has also featured musical pioneers such as Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, Pops Staples, and Brownie McGhee as well as modern superstars R.E.M., Martina McBride and Norah Jones. Groce retired from hosting Mountain Stage in 2021 with his successor being hit singer songwriter, and West Virginia native Kathy Mattea.

Joining us on the show as co-host is John Adams from Money Concepts. We talk a bit about how Larry saved the money he earned during his career, and we even delve into how the Chuck Berry Hit “Johnny Be Good” came about.

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