Billy Grimes The Rover
Composer: Unknown

Billy Grimes The Rover was performed by the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers in San Carlos on June 11th 1962. The Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers were a trio formed by Jerry Garcia, Marshall Leicester and Dick Arnold in May 1962. The song was also performed by the Hart Valley Drifter in late 1962.

At least three versions of Billy Grimes were published in 1852: Billy Grimes, or, The country lassie and her mother by Wm. H. Oakley (published by Firth, Pond and Co.); Billy Grimes the drover by N. C. Morse (published by G. W. Brainard and Co.) and Tomorrow I'm sweet sixteen by James Bellak (published by Lee and Walker). This, more or less, simultaneous publication of different versions suggests that the song existed before this date and achieved some sort of popularity that prompted the publications in 1852. Online copies of these sheet music publications can be viewed at the Music For The Nation: American Sheet Music site.

The Shelor Family (Jesse T. Shelor, Clarice Blackard and Pyrhus D. Shelor) recorded the song on August 2, 1927 in Bristol, Tennessee. This was one of the now famous Bristol sessions, often referred to in later years as the "big bang" of country music.

Jerry Garcia recordings

info Folk Time, Hart Valley Drifters, 2016
info Before The Dead, Jerry Garcia, 2018

Other recordings

no info Single (Billy Grimes, The Rover / Big Bend Gal), The Shelor Family, 1927 (Victor 20865)
info The Grail Singers Sing Folk Songs from..., The Grail Singers, 1959
info The New Lost City Ramblers, Vol. 4, The New Lost City Ramblers, 1962
no info Miramichi Songs and Ballads, Marie Hare, 1962
info Old Timey Music, The New Lost City Ramblers, 1964
info Goin' Down the Valley: Vocal and Instrumental Music From the South, Various Artists (The Shelor Family), 1977
no info In Between, Carla Sciaky, 1985
no info The Bristol Sessions, Vol. 2, Various Artists (The Shelor Family), 1987
no info Mothers and Daughters, Bridget Ball, 1989
info On a Cold Winter Night, Tom Paley with Ben Paley, 1993
no info Time Has Made a Change in Me, Jerry Epstein with Jeff Davis, 1995
info Times Ain't Like They Used To Be: Early American Rural Music, Vol. 2, Various Artists (The Shelor Family), 1997
no info As I Walked Out Mike Preston and Mike Fenton, 2005
info If You Ain't Got The Do-Re-Mi, Various Artists (New Lost City Ramblers), 2007
info 50 Years: Where Do You Come from, Where Do You Go?, The New Lost City Ramblers, 2009
info The Shelor-Blackard Family, The Shelor-Blackard Family, 2009


The lyrics of the version performed by the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers are as follows;

Tomorrow morn I'll be sixteen,
And Billy Grimes the rover,
Has popped the question to me, ma,
Wants to be my lover.

And he'll be here in the morning, ma,
He'll be here quite early,
Take a pleasant walk with him,
Across the fields of barley.

Oh daughter dear you shall not go,
There is no use a'talkin',
You shall not go with Billy Grimes,
Across the fields a'walkin'.

Imagine such presumption too,
The dirty, ugly rover,
I wonder where your pride has gone,
To think of such a lover.

Oh mama dear I must confess,
That Billy is quite clever,
With an ounce of gold we'd not be found,
In this wide world all over.

Oh daughter dear I am surprised,
At this infatuation,
Think of having Billy Grimes,
It would be ruination.

Oh mama dear old Grimes is dead,
And Billy is the only
Surviving heir of all that's left,
About six thousand yearly.

Oh daughter dear I did not hear,
Your last remark quite clearly,
Billy is a nice young lad,
And no doubt loves you dearly.

  album cover

album cover

album cover

album cover

album cover