Frank “Skip” Groff [b. November 20, 1948 - d. February 18, 2019] was a record store owner, record producer, disc jockey, United States Army veteran, and record promoter who was a primary figure in the Washington, D.C. area punk scene from the late 1970s through the early 2000s. Starting out as a disc jockey in the mid-1960s while a student at the University of Maryland, Groff forged a multi-faceted career, spending time as a department store announcer, disc jockey, United States Army veteran, record store manager, and record promoter before eventually playing a vital role in the development of D.C.’s nascent punk scene in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Headquartered out of his Rockville, Maryland store, Yesterday & Today Records, Groff served as a producer for some of the earliest and most influential punk records to come out of Washington, D.C., and also headed Limp Records, one of D.C.’s first punk record labels. Several notable musicians from the D.C. punk and indie rock scenes, like Ian MacKaye, Henry Rollins, Sharon Cheslow, Tommy Keene, Archie Moore, Ted Nicely, Jim Spellman, and Kim Kane, were employees or regular customers of Yesterday & Today. Groff also mentored MacKaye and Jeff Nelson as they launched their record label, Dischord Records, in 1980. Dischord is still an active record label and has issued or distributed hundreds of releases by notable D.C. punk bands like Fugazi, Minor Threat, and Jawbox, selling millions of copies along the way.
Before opening Yesterday & Today in 1977, Groff served as a retail clerk, buyer, and store manager for various record stores in the D.C. area, like Empire Music, Variety Records, and Waxie Maxies. He also briefly co-owned a record store in Kensington, Maryland called Hit & Run Records, before departing to open Yesterday & Today. Groff closed the physical location of Yesterday & Today in 2002, but continued to operate an online business that sold the 200,000+ stock of singles that he possessed until his death in 2019.
As a record producer, Groff worked across several genres, including heavy metal (Pentagram) and bluegrass (Toothpick Tommy and The Truckers, a group whose name Groff coined), but his mark was made working with punk and hardcore bands. Groff produced some of the earliest punk records from the D.C. scene, from the likes of the Slickee Boys, Black Market Baby, and the Nurses, as well as genre-defining hardcore punk recordings by Minor Threat, Teen Idles, and State of Alert. As the head of his own record label, Limp Records, Groff issued the first D.C. punk compilation album (1978’s :30 Over D.C.—Here Comes The New Wave!), along with singles and albums from The Slickee Boys, The Razz, Black Market Baby, Nightman, and several other bands.
Groff’s career in radio is also an important part of his legacy. Employing pseudonyms like Skip Nelson and Sam Doug, Groff worked at a variety of radio stations in the D.C./Baltimore area from 1966 until 1990. Starting at WMUC, the campus radio station at the University of Maryland, Groff further established himself as a disc jockey at stations like WINX-AM, WSID-FM, and WAVA-FM. Drafted into the United States Army in 1970, he served a full two year term before coming out of the Army and assuming the positions of program director, music director, and morning announcer at WINX. He also worked as a radio promotion manager for RCA Records in the mid-1970s, promoting artists like Pure Prairie League and Hall & Oates in parts of the American Midwest. The 1970s saw Groff issue several independent publications, like Groffiti and Hit and Run, which combined elements of rock fanzines and radio tipsheets, and were some of the first publications to cover the punk rock subculture in the Washington, D.C. area. He also contributed music writings to D.C. punk fanzines like The Infiltrator and Descenes.