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GRIGGS, WILLIAM FREDERICK [BILL]

GRIGGS, WILLIAM FREDERICK [BILL] (1941–2011). William Frederick Griggs, celebrated 1950s rock-and-roll historian, was born on June 17, 1941, in Hartford, Connecticut. He was the oldest of three children born to William B. and Emma (Giel) Griggs, both of whom were professional musicians, playing trumpet and keyboards, respectively. Bill Griggs learned to play the drums. He was known around the world as THE authority and historian on Buddy Holly and the Crickets and a trusted source to anyone producing shows, articles, and books on the subjects of Buddy Holly and 1950s rock-and-roll.

Throughout his teenage years, Bill Griggs attended many of the early rock-and-roll concerts held at the State Theatre in Hartford, including seeing Buddy Holly and the Crickets. After graduating from Bulkeley High School in 1959, he attended the University of Connecticut briefly, with hopes of becoming an astronomer. But the “pull” from his love of music was too strong and would lead him in a direction where he would become an astronomer of a different sort—he would go on to tell the world about the “stars” of 1950s rock-and-roll.

Griggs 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 prompted him to move to Lubbock in 1981. It was his home for the last thirty years of his life.

Bill Griggs made over fifty television appearances, had more than thirty book credits, and more than 3,000,000 people have visited his website (www.rockin50s.com) and message board. Starting in 1978, he held conventions in Connecticut and in Texas for the fans of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Griggs emceed numerous rock-and-roll shows across the country and cofounded Lubbock’s “Budfest” concert in 1986 and the Clovis Music Festival in 1987. For thirty years, he published Reminiscing and Rockin 50s magazines. Initially Griggs published the two magazines on alternate months. After he discontinued Reminiscing around 1991, he continued to publish Rockin’ 50s until 2004 when he retired from magazine publishing.

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

Bill Griggs gave an intense effort to get the story of 1950s rock-and-roll factually correct. He produced more than 100 magazines/booklets pertaining to Buddy Holly and the Crickets and 1950s rock-and-roll. He conducted seven years of research for his Buddy Holly Day-By-Day five-booklet series. In recognition of all his work, MCA Records presented Griggs with multiple gold records for his efforts to “promote and preserve the legacy of Buddy Holly and The Crickets.” Griggs was inducted into the Buddy Holly/West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock, Texas, on July 31, 2010.

Griggs had married in 1966 but divorced in 1990. He had two children. On June 3, 2004, he married Sharon Reaume. He died on March 29, 2011, in Lubbock, Texas, after a battle with cancer. He was sixty-nine years old and was buried at Lubbock Cemetery. He was survived by his widow Sharon Griggs and the many fans of 1950s rock-and-roll.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

The Bill Griggs Story (http://www.rockin50s.com/bg_story.htm), accessed June 28, 2011. James Eppler, “Buddy Holly historian Bill Griggs succumbs to cancer at age 69,” MyFOXlubbock.com (http://www.myfoxlubbock.com/news/local/story/Buddy-Holly-Bill-Griggs/E_rLENK6OkiCQ2k7PPKkFQ.cspx ), accessed June 28, 2011. Lubbock Avalanche–Journal, July 30, 2010.

Randy Steele

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Randy Steele, "GRIGGS, WILLIAM FREDERICK [BILL]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgrbh), accessed October 30, 2014. Uploaded on August 18, 2014. Modified on October 4, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.