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.
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.”
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