A Tribute to William Frederick Griggs

June 17, 1941-March 29, 2011

 

 

The remarkable life of William Frederick Griggs, known to his friends and fans as Bill, came to an end on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas, after a courageous battle with cancer.  He was 69.

 

Bill Griggs was born in Hartford, Connecticut on June 17, 1941, on his mother’s birthday.   Throughout his teenage years, he attended many of the early rock-n-roll concerts held at the State Theatre in Hartford, including seeing Buddy Holly and The Crickets.  After graduating high school, Bill attended the University of Connecticut briefly, with hopes of becoming an astronomer.  But being the son of professional musicians, the “pull” from his love of music was too strong and would lead him in a direction where be would become an astronomer of a different sort—he would go on to tell the world about the “stars” of 1950’s rock-n-roll. 

 

Bill first visited Lubbock, Texas in 1968 and was bitten by the love of Buddy Holly’s hometown.  He would continue to visit to conduct research on the lives and career of Buddy Holly and The Crickets.  His acute-love of west Texas would cause him to move to Lubbock in 1981.  It would be his home for the last 30 years of his life.  In that time, Bill Griggs would become known around the world as THE Buddy Holly historian and authority and a trusted friend to the Holley family.

 

Bill Griggs gave an intense effort to get the story of 1950’s rock-n-roll factually correct.  He produced over 100 magazines/booklets pertaining to Buddy Holly and The Crickets and 1950’s rock-n-roll.  He conducted seven years of research for his “Buddy Holly-Day By Day” five-booklet series.  For over thirty years, he and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writer Bill Kerns enjoyed a fun-loving debate over Bill Griggs on-going request that the A-J print a correction in the paper admitting their mistake in posting that Ella Holley had given birth to a daughter on September 7, 1936 when in reality it was a boy, Charles Hardin Holley, known to the world as Buddy Holly, who was born on that September day. 

 

Bill made over 50 television appearances, had over 30 book credits, and over 3,000,000 people have visited his rockin50s.com website and message board.  Starting in 1978, Bill held conventions in Connecticut and in Texas for the fans of Buddy Holly and The Crickets.  Bill emceed numerous rock-n-roll shows across the country and co-founded Lubbock’s “Budfest” concert in 1986 and the Clovis Music Festival in 1987.  For 30 years, Bill Griggs published Reminiscing and Rockin 50s magazines.  He became close friends with some of 1950’s rock-n-roll best known artists, including The Crickets, Dion, Buddy Knox, Roy Orbison, and many others.  In recognition of his efforts, MCA Records presented Bill with multiple gold records for his efforts to “promote and preserve the legacy of Buddy Holly and The Crickets”.

From 1975 until 1991, Bill Griggs created and ran the Buddy Holly Memorial Society.  It began with one member (him) and when it ended, the BHMS had over 5,500 members, including all fifty states and thirty-four different countries.  With all of his accomplishments, Bill was most proud of this.  He said that he was so lucky to have nearly 6,000 friends from all over the world and hosting many of these friends during their visits to Buddy Holly’s hometown.

 

Over the past three decades, Bill Griggs conducted thousands of tours of Buddy Holly’s Lubbock free of charge.  It is simply not debatable that his efforts made a direct impact on the tourism of Lubbock, Texas.  Bill Griggs was inducted into the West Texas /Buddy Holly Walk of Fame in July of 2010.  At the reception, Bill repeated what he often said, “I was not born in Lubbock but I got here as soon as I could.”   It can be said that Buddy Holly will always be Lubbock’s “favorite son” but it seems that Bill Griggs is Lubbock’s “favorite cousin” from out of state.  His work will remain in its role as “keeper of the flame” for Buddy Holly and The Crickets fans from around the world. 

 

Funeral services for Bill Griggs will be April 16, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. at Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers in Lubbock, Texas.  Burial will follow at Lubbock Cemetery, near the graves of Buddy Holly and the Holley family, where Bill will forever rest in peace and continue his watch on all things Buddy Holly. 

 

 Bill was preceded in death by his parents William B. Griggs and Emma Griggs Giel, and a brother Alan Griggs.  He is survived by his wife, partner, and friend Sharon Griggs, who stood strongly by his side till the very end.  He is survived by one sister Jennifer Blevins and husband Steve, six Nieces and Nephews, a Step Daughter and Son-in-Law, a Step Grandson, and 1 Cousin. 

 

And finally, he is survived and will be missed by everyone who still loves 1950’s rock-n-roll. 

 

 

Rave on friends of Bill Griggs, rave on.   

Peace,

Randy Steele                                                                                                                                      
 
  www.buddyhollyandthecrickets.com  


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