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Subject: Archive: Bill Griggs, Mar. 29, 2011


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Buddy Holly expert, friend to this group
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Date Posted: Friday, March 31, 01:32:17pm

Bill Griggs was, for decades, a friend to legendary singer-songwriter and Lubbock native Buddy Holly’s fans of all ages.

Consider that Austin musician Monte Warden, a member of both the Wagoneers and the Lonesharks, said, “Bill Griggs was a dear friend and honored historian. I met him in 1978 when I was 11.

“When we Holly fans were in ‘the desert’ (before the movie, or even Lubbock doing anything), he was our oasis. When George Strait recorded my song ‘Desperately,’ one of the first congratulatory calls I got was from sweet Bill Griggs.”

Griggs died on March 29 after a lengthy, publicized battle with cancer. He was 69.
n and a Buddy Holly expert who also helped shine an international spotlight on Lubbock, Griggs was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame — originally called the Buddy Holly West Texas Walk of Fame — on July. 30, 2010.
The walk of fame was located at the base of the life-size bronze statue of Holly.

The statue and walk of fame’s plaques presently are kept out of public view, and will be unveiled again at the opening of the Buddy and Maria Elena Holly Plaza, across the street from the Buddy Holly Center, west of Crickets Avenue.

Lubbock City Councilman Paul Beane stated, “Music fans everywhere owe Bill a debt that we can never repay. I just wish he could have lived to see the opening of the park (plaza) next to the Buddy Holly Center.”
Griggs’ funeral will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday in the chapel at Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers, 6025 82nd St.

The service will be opened by Lubbock musician Mike Pritchard, singing Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever.”
Sharon Griggs, Bill’s widow, said, “Mike suggested it, and I cried the first time he sang it for me.”

Seated on Sharon Griggs’ left will be Griggs’ home health care nurse, Chris Baker, who became a friend. On her right will be Virgil Johnson, who will close the service by singing “The Lord’s Prayer” a cappella.
Johnson was the lead singer for 1950s and ’60s doo-wop band The Velvets before becoming a Lubbock educator.
Also attending will be Griggs’ sister, Jennifer Blevins, and her husband, Steve.

The funeral service also can be experienced via a live webcast, with a chapel spokesman saying, “It will be like having a seat on the back row.”


Griggs will be buried at City of Lubbock Cemetery, “close to the grave sites of Buddy Holly and his family,” said Sharon Griggs.

She added that members of the Nifty ’50s Car Club will lead the procession from the funeral to the cemetery.
Griggs was born in Hartford, Conn. He founded the Buddy Holly Memorial Society in 1975, operating under a license from the Buddy Holly estate. By 1991, membership in the society totaled more than 5,500 in all 50 states and 34 countries.

He began publishing his “Reminiscing” newsletter, the official publication of the Buddy Holly Memorial Society, in 1976.
In 1978, after being invited to the opening of the movie called “The Buddy Holly Story,” Griggs produced the very first Buddy Holly convention, where the Crickets reunited and performed on stage for the first time since Holly’s death in 1959.

Griggs moved to Lubbock in 1981 to pursue his research on Holly, the Crickets and West Texas music. He never left.
In 1985, he terminated “Reminiscing” and instead began producing his “Rockin’ 50s” magazine, which enjoyed a 30-year run.

Griggs consulted with MCA Records on the Grammy-nominated, six-CD Holly box set released in 2010.
Earlier, he helped co-produce an English documentary film with MPL (Paul McCartney) and the British Broadcasting Corp., that eventually was re-edited and released as “The Real Buddy Holly Story.”

One of his favorite ventures was a 1986 concert in Lubbock. Partnering with the late Rob Gamble and Randy Smith, Griggs’ Budfest concert featured Carl Perkins, Del Shannon, Bo Diddley, Buddy Knox, the Crickets, Bobby Vee and Sonny Curtis on the same stage.

In 1999, Griggs website www.rockin50s.com went online. It still is operating today.

The late Buddy Holly’s family requested that Griggs serve as a pallbearer at the funerals of Buddy’s father, Lawrence Odell Holley, on July 10, 1985, and Buddy’s older sister, Patricia Holley Kaiter, on Sept. 29, 2008.

The news of Griggs’ passing was heartbreaking for many, and certainly stirred memories.

Two of the panelists for the Buddy Holly seminar in 2003 at Cleveland’s Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame were Griggs and John Goldrosen. The latter authored the first definitive Holly biography in 1975, “The Buddy Holly Story,” and, in 2001, co-authored an update with John Beecher called “Remembering Buddy.”

Goldrosen told The A-J about meeting Griggs in 1975, shortly after the publication of his book.
“Bill then lived in Connecticut,” said the author, “less than 100 miles from my home in Massachusetts ... and came to visit me. From the start, I was impressed with Bill’s knowledge of rock ’n’ roll, and especially his research and organizational skills. He loved the music, of course, but that alone would not have been enough to accomplish what he did.

“He was able to communicate with people at all levels, and that helped him gain the trust of musicians, Holly’s family and the many fans who he came in contact with. He had an entrepreneurial spirit, and it served him well.”
He defined Griggs’ legacy in three parts:

•“To me personally: Bill was a great asset in helping me improve my biography through several updated editions. I was able to draw on the information that he unearthed and the people that he contacted,

•“For Buddy Holly: Bill helped to make Buddy a household name. People may not realize how often Bill served as a ‘go-to’ resource for people looking for documentary material and advice for radio and TV shows, magazine and newspaper articles, movie documentaries and tribute concerts.

•“For the fans: In an age before Internet, email, Facebook and Google, Bill established a true community of Buddy Holly and rock ’n’ roll fans largely through the written word and the telephone.”

Beecher, still living in England, emailed, “I started UK fan clubs for Buddy Holly and the Crickets in 1960. Bill wrote to me for advice in 1974 when he was thinking of starting the Buddy Holly Memorial Society.”

Asked about Griggs’ legacy, Beecher said, “Undoubtedly his meticulous assembly of facts concerning Holly and those who worked with him. His booklets, ‘Buddy Holly Day by Day,’ are superb reference works that no Holly fan should be without. No one could ever equal his attention to detail, and determination to document Holly’s life in this way.

“For those great little books alone, we should be forever thankful.”
Canadian Holly fan Dale Wiese said, “It’s the human side of being a Buddy Holly fan that he gave meaning to.”
Holly fan John Barry emailed from Washington, D.C., “It is difficult to overstate the importance of the legacy that Bill has left for future generations. His Buddy Holly books and numerous publications have conserved a rich history of the golden age of rock and roll that would otherwise have been lost.”

Meanwhile, Sherry Holley, the late Buddy Holly’s niece, added, “I did not know Bill Griggs as well as my dad (Larry Holley) and (my uncle) Travis did. As far as history goes, Bill even knew more about my uncle than any of the Buddy Holly fans.

“And in the last few years, he always greeted me with a smile.”

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