When he was eight, he made his first broadcast appearance, billed as "The Boy Wonder Accordionist" on CBS Radio's Hobby Lobby. The show's emcee messed up his name, announcing him as "Pete Jolly," but the boy liked the sound of it and used it ever after.Though his name is little recognized today, Jolly had a long, distinguished recording, composing and performing career. To Floraphiles, however, he is a household name, having been idiosyncratically rendered by the artist twice (in duo and trio releases) on 1955 RCA Victor 7" EP covers. In each case, Flora's caricature in no way resembled a recognizable human being. But then, Flora always insisted he "couldn't do likenesses." Original copies of both covers are extremely rare and highly sought by Flora collectors.
We issued a screen print of the Pete Jolly Duo cover in 2007.
I spoke to Jolly briefly before he passed away in 2004. I was soliciting quotes for our first volume of Floriana, The Mischievous Art of Jim Flora, the anthology that contained most of the artist's album cover illustrations. Having tracked down Jolly thru the L.A. musician's union, I gave him a call. He had no recollection of either EP cover and claimed never to have heard the name Jim Flora. Though Jolly was a gentleman to chat with, I came away from the conversation without a quote.