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Holly expert Bill Griggs dead at 69

By William Kerns | A-J Entertainment Editor

William Frederick “Bill” Griggs, without a doubt the foremost authority on Lubbock legends Buddy Holly and the Crickets, died Tuesday.

He was 69.

Already suffering from cancer at the time, Griggs was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame on July 30.

Holly was the first person inducted in 1979.

Griggs said prior to his induction, “Wow, I have spent 42 years researching and publishing items pertaining to West Texas music and Buddy Holly and the Crickets. To be recognized now for that input by the city of Lubbock with a plaque that will be around long after I am gone, is an honor I cannot really describe.”

He compared the plaque to gold records received from Holly’s record company.

Griggs was born in Hartford, Conn.

He founded the International Buddy Holly Memorial Society in 1975, operating under a license from the Holly estate, and moved his family to Lubbock in 1981 to pursue his research on Holly and the Crickets.

He produced the first of 11 annual Buddy Holly Conventions in Lubbock in 1978, and that year reunited the Crickets for the first time since Holly’s death in 1959.

By 1990, the Holly Memorial Society had members in all 50 states and 34 countries. Total membership exceeded 5,500 people.

His widow, Sharon Griggs, said, “As far as final words, the only thing he has repeated over and over is that he had a great life. He is so proud because of all the fans that he has brought together, and all the friends that he made all over the world because of Buddy Holly, the music and (his) Rockin’ ’50s Magazine.”

“I liked Bill a lot,” said Travis Holley, one of Buddy’s older brothers, Tuesday night.

“He was a good guy and a great historian. If you needed to know any little thing about Buddy, or about any of those singers from back in the ’50s, Bill always was the best guy to call.”

Charles Pike, another music historian, said Tuesday, “With his loss, we are left with a giant archive of historical treasures, rediscovered music from artists who history had passed by, recordings, interviews and videotapes of the musicians and songwriters in a small section of America, whose work and sound went on to influence, and even change, popular culture.

Ryan Vandergriff, writer of a book about Holly’s final tour, said, “Bill’s legacy is that of rescuing Buddy Holly and the Crickets from the mists of time.

“He completed a job that had been set into motion by the likes of John Beecher and Don McLean. In short, he became a living, breathing repository of information about a particular era and series of events from the 1950s that had long since left center stage.”

Beecher, who began fan clubs in England as early as 1960 for Holly and the Crickets, emailed that Griggs’ legacy will be “his meticulous assembly of facts concerning Holly and those who worked with him.”

A career highlight was his publication of a five-booklet set, “Buddy Holly Day-By-Day,” in which Griggs documented where Holly was, and what he was doing, on all but a dozen dates during the artist’s career.

Funeral plans have not been completed, but Griggs said he always hoped to be buried in City of Lubbock cemetery, “near Buddy’s grave.”

To comment on this story:

william.kerns@lubbockonline.com | 766-8712

shelly.gonzales@lubbockonline.com | 766-8747

6 Comments

  1. To the family and fellow friends of Mr. Griggs: My attempt to express in mere words my feelings at this time will fall far short. I’m confident that Bill was aware of my sincere admiration and appreciation of his passion for his work, his love of life and his immense capacity to make others happy and feel welcome. I have lost a dear friend, though Mr. Griggs and I have not had face to face contact in 20 years. Some folks are friends for life, and that is all that need be said. I am grateful that Mr. Griggs will suffer no longer, and I sincerely hope we all can celebrate, as Bill would want us to, his great love of real rock and roll, and the sheer exuberance of life the good stuff is made of. Like Buddy Holly’s music, Bill’s great achievement was his ability to provide a focal point for thousands of us from dozens of countries world wide, to laugh and share good times through our common interest. A fine man is gone, we will miss him greatly. You just know an unimaginably great concert is being organized by Bill as we speak. Thank you Mr. Griggs, Dale W

  2. i knew bill from conversing over the phone.Ibought alot of books and magazinesfrom bill.whihout bills help iwould not have know about buddy hollyi would have liked to have

  3. I was chocked hearing the news of Bill’s dead. I knew him of the founder of the BHMS. I was a long time member and bought many Buddy holly items from him. I remember him as a nice and punctuality person.

  4. I was very sorry to hear of Bill’s death.

    Along with John Beecher and John Goldrosen, Bill filled in all those gaps in our knowledge of Buddy Holly.

    He was a fountain of knowledge, and most generous with his time and his expertise.

    Jim Liddane
    International Songwriters Association

  5. Bill Griggs helped bring me up to date on all things “Buddy” when, for many years I had moved from rock and roll radio into TV. When I did some fill-in talk-radio in Chicago, Bill was a guest who gave us all new insights into Buddy’s life. Bill also helped me become more familar with the event I was close to, but because of a career that went a different direction, an event I was not totally familiar with. Bill’s dedication, his committment and loyalty to those involved in that terrible tragedy helped keep the facts straight. And, his personality and pleasentness was a gift to all who knew him.

    Rave On Bill Griggs, Rave on!

    Bob Hae
    emcee Winter Dance Party
    Surf Ballroom 1959

  6. For all you did for Buddy’s fans, thank you.Special thanks, Bill, for allowing Leza and me to watch you do your radio show in Lubbock. And thanks for showing us memorabilia at you and Sharon’s home.

    Gerry

    Toronto, Canada

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