Grooms was born in Nashville, Tennessee and studied at the Peabody College there. He moved on to the Art Institute of Chicago, the New School for Social Research in New York and then a summer school in Provincetown run by Hans Hofmann.
He initially came to prominence with his Happenings in New York in the late Fifties. By the 1960s he was working on mixed-media installations featuring garish figures taking over whole rooms. In some ways like a comic strip come to life these events established his reputation. He went on to create more ambitious projects often drawing on a team of collaborators including his wife Mimi Gross. Besides these ‘environments’, Grooms has produced many paintings characterised by their vivid colours and distinctive figures, and has worked with the filmmaker Rudolph Burckhardt on a number of occasions.