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Grover Sales: 1920-2004
Grover Sales
Writer, teacher

Born: 1920 in Louisville, KY
Died: February 14, 2004 in Tiburon, CA

San Francisco Jazz Scene Mainstay

by James Hale
Copyright © 2004 James Hale

Strongly opinionated and superbly literate, longtime Bay Area resident Grover Sales was the kind of jazz critic who left no doubt about where he stood on issues ranging from the genius of Lenny Bruce to the paucity of gay jazz musicians.

During a career that spanned 50 years Sales wrote about jazz, film and cultural politics and published widely in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Tiburon Ark and Gene Lees' Jazzletter. He wrote three books: Jazz: America's Classical Music, a biography of John Maher and, with his wife Georgia, The Clay-Pot Cookbook, which sold more than 800,000 copies.

Sales was also publicist for the Monterey Jazz Festival from its birth in 1958 until 1965, and for the hungry i nightclub. He also did freelance publicity work for artists such as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland and Dick Gregory, and wrote liner notes for several Fantasy recordings.

Over the years, he taught jazz history courses at Stanford University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University and the JazzSchool.

Sales became a jazz fan at 16, after hearing a broadcast of Benny Goodman's band with drummer Gene Krupa, and later became what he called "an inveterate Ellington groupie" after hearing a recording of "Black And Tan Fantasy".

After serving in the Army Air Corps in Southeast Asia during World War II, Sales studied at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and then settled in the Bay Area, where he received a BA in history from the University of California at Berkeley.

In addition to his wife, Sales is survived by a daughter and two step-sons.

James Hale
Editor of

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With 4 reader comments, latest July 20, 2011