Up Close With Bill Griggs: The Number One Historian of Buddy Holly and The Crickets
Pick up any high-profile biography on Buddy Holly and you'll see Bill Griggs' name indexed to the nth power. My conclusion is this: None of these biographies could have been completed with any degree of factual success without Griggs' input and that's because he rules supreme over all the historians of Buddy Holly and The Crickets.
Since 1975, Bill has amassed a very detailed catalog of information that's had a pertinent connection to Holly and he's strengthened this enormous task via his frequent travels and numerous, impressive interviews that continue to this day. Some of his subjects have never opened up to other interviewers like they have to Griggs, and certainly none of them has ever developed a special bonding with the family members of Buddy Holly to the degree that Bill has. Buddy's brother, Larry, has often said, and I quote, "This man knows more about my brother than I do."
The Lance Monthly is honored to present this fascinating interview with the man, Bill Griggs, who has devoted nearly his entire adult life to the life and times of easily, the greatest pioneer of rock 'n' roll . . . the true king . . . Buddy Holly.
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[Lance Monthly] Bill, where and when were you born, and please give our readers some background during your years with your birth family such as hobbies, family size, type of neighborhood, et al?
Bill Griggs I was born on June 17, 1941, in Hartford, Connecticut. I was the oldest of three, having a younger brother and sister. Our neighborhood was located next to the so-called projects, but if everyone in your neighborhood is fairly poor, you really don't know it. There were two dozen kids in that neighborhood near my age or my brother's, and we always ended up in the empty lot next-door playing baseball or whatever.
You can safely say I had a busy and varied childhood. Both of my parents were professional musicians (Father - trumpet, Mother - keyboards), and I grew up with music always in the home. Trying to emulate my father, I took trumpet lessons, but kept splitting my lip. The positive side of this is that I was taught to read music. I then took drum lessons and was in a small group during my high-school years.
Aside from music, I had a lot of hobbies and collections, but the two most serious studies were astronomy and ocean liners. I had a large telescope at age 15 and was studying college textbooks on astronomy. My "claim to fame" with the astronomy is that my Moonwatch group and I were the last people to see the Sputnik rocket casing in orbit before it fell.
By age 15, my parents allowed me to travel from Hartford, Connecticut, to New York City on the train. I'd then take a taxicab to the docks and board the large ocean liners to look around. I'd first check in the newspaper to see which liners would be sailing on that particular Saturday. For fifty cents, you could go aboard until the fellow with the gong came around saying, "All ashore that's going ashore." Back then you could walk around the dock area of New York City with no worries, unlike today. I still study and collect ocean liner memorabilia today.
In 1955, I began attending rock 'n' roll concerts at the State Theater in Hartford. This was a huge place holding 4,100 people. As it was located about halfway between Boston and New York, all the great acts stopped there. Becoming a regular, I was allowed to go backstage and I was fortunate to meet and talk with many of the artists of that era. Although I do not know how I do it, I have a memory that will not quit and remember many trivial items from that era as if they had taken place yesterday. Because of the State Theater and my memory, I'm able to do what I do today. I fondly remember a fight outside the theater before it opened in 1956. (First 200 inside always received a free record so we got there early!) The fight began between two fellows, one arguing that Pat Boone was the king of rock 'n' roll, the other saying it was Elvis. Not as outlandish as this may seem, Elvis had just burst upon the scene, Pat already had a string of hit records.
I graduated Bulkeley High School in 1959 and then went to the University of Connecticut, majoring in physics and chemistry (astronomy, remember?), but somewhere along the way, I got sidetracked with music. During my late teens, I was heavily into music and collecting records and got into another hobby: drag racing. I was fortunate to be a national record holder in my class and finally became a national champion for both my class and eliminator in 1971. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
[Lance Monthly] Bill, you and I are about the same age and I have a vivid memory of how the male teens dressed during the mid-'50s when rock 'n' roll was making its debut. There were four different styles of dress that placed you into one of the following four groups: 1. "The Cool Cat" - long hair on the sides greased with Butch Wax and formed into a ducktail in the back, pink or purple shirts buttoned at the collar and sleeves, Levi jeans with no cuffs, low on the hips, and black patent leather shoes with taps on the soles and heels. 2. "The Biker" - white T-shirt with pack of cigarettes rolled into one sleeve, Levis jeans with small cuffs, and (what we called) engineer boots. 3. "The Stomper" - Levi jeans with stovepipe boots, form-fitted western shirts, and wide western belts fastened by oversized belt buckles. 4. The Square - off-brands of jeans worn high above the navel with huge pant cuffs, tennis shoes, and plaid shirts. How does this style of dress parallel with that of yours during the mid-'50s?
Bill Griggs Bulkeley High School was an inner city school, but most of us dressed very conservatively. I really don't remember boys wearing blue jeans, usually slacks and short sleeve shirts. Girls always wore skirts and sweaters. Yes, DA haircuts were "in," and so were "Chicagos" (a crew cut with wings) which is how I wore it. My hair used to be long and greased, but when I was on the track and cross-country teams, the hair would flop into my eyes while running. I cut it.
[Lance Monthly] Before rock came on the scene, what kind of music did you mostly listen to? Were you into the Hit Parade scene with such songs as "Let Me Go Lover," "How Much is that Doggie in the Window," and "Let Me Go Lover," or did you develop a passion for specialized music like classical or country music, or progressive jazz by such artists as Dave Brubeck, J.J. Johnson, Mulligan, and Winding?
Bill Griggs Like everyone else, we listened to the pop music of the day. My family would always watch the Ed Sullivan show on Sundays and I'd wait to see if Teresa Brewer would be on. She was my favorite back then.
My friends and I were introduced to "Black" music early on. We'd get on our bicycles and ride to New Britain, Connecticut, (about 15 miles away!) and sit in this little park across the street from a Black record store. It had speakers over the door and we'd hear things not on our local radio. (As an aside, there is something about being there that bothers me to this day. As my friends and I were White, when we sat in that little park listening to the music, the Blacks in that neighborhood would not use the park while we were there. It was their park, not ours, and I still feel badly that--albeit unwittingly--we deprived them of their park.)
While on that subject of race, our neighborhood was mixed and we had absolutely no prejudices at all. We were at "their" houses; "they" came to our houses. We didn't have problems until the government said there was a problem during the 1960s. Let me go a bit further with this. People have continually asked me why the 1950s music was so special and won't go away. I've given this reply for years. During the 1940s, Whites had their own music and Blacks had theirs. There weren't many Black radio stations, so their music wasn't really being heard.
During the 1950s, Black and White music merged into rock 'n' roll/rhythm and blues. Most venues had integrated seating, the performances were integrated, and everyone was happy. [But also] during the 1950s, music split off again. White rock 'n' roll became pop or rock, Black music became Motown and soul; each had their own again. The 1950s were the only time both races primarily enjoyed the same genre of music.
[Lance Monthly] Bill, you say your parents were professional musicians. How active were they in the music business and what venues did they play? Was this their full-time profession?
Bill Griggs My father, William B. Griggs, way back when, was a vacation trumpeter. The big bands usually went all year long, and the band members had to take vacations. My father would fill in for a big band trumpeter for a week or so, then go to another band and do the same. He performed with some of the big names of that period, including both Dorsey bands.
By the time I was a teenager, he had already retired from that and had formed his own band in the Connecticut area. He was well known for his work and knew many of the big names. My drumming idol was Gene Krupa and my father arranged for me to meet him and get his autograph. I still have it.
My father is deceased. My mother, Emma Griggs, is still living in Connecticut. She plays keyboards and is also known throughout the New England region. She played for the same dancing school for more than fifty years and also played in various bands and cocktail lounges around the area. She also does a lot of charity work in the area.
[Lance Monthly] Bill, please give our readers a little more detail about your band in high school. What was its name and what kind of music did you play? Do you recall the names of the band members?
Bill Griggs The band at Bulkeley high was the Moonriders. I played drums with them for a short time. In actuality, the band was so popular that they had two or three different "Moonriders" booked out on some weekends. We played rock 'n' roll but with a large sound, sometimes having two saxophones etc. The Moonriders made three records on the Candy label (two released), but I was not on those records.
We took a lot of old standards and rocked them up. One of the records released was "Summertime." We also played a lot of original music, written by the band. Even then, none of the more popular bands in the area wanted to be known as a cover band. Sure, we all played some of the hits of the moment, [but the band] mostly played instrumentals such as "Honky Tonk", etc.
The local radio stations always had a Battle of the Bands show, usually held at the Hartford Armory. There was a band at Weaver high called the Downbeats and they were our biggest competition. [And there] was always fierce competition between these two city bands and those from other schools.
Only one time did my father, mother, and I get together to play. I still have the tape. I was about fifteen and played drums to their music. By that time, my father was retired from his professional big band career but my mother was in the middle of hers. I still listen to that tape fondly. How many teens can say they performed with both of their parents?
[Lance Monthly] Very cool Bill about your national championship Drag Racing titles. Would you elaborate a little more about your racing days? What was it that gave you the passion to drag race?
Bill Griggs I began my drag racing career because of an accident. I had a blue and white 1954 Ford that was mint. It got hit in an accident in 1959 (not my fault) with much body damage. We took it back to the dealer where we had purchased it and I found a 1956 Chevrolet, standard shift, with the big 205 horsepower V8 engine. It was all black and it was fast!
After learning how to speed shift, and getting racing in my blood, I began going to the drag strips in the area. Making the modifications allowed by the rules, I prepared the car for the Super Stock class and began racing in 1960. I was very successful, winning several championships and many trophies, and setting several strip records. This was a car I also drove on the street.
I then got a 1957 Chevrolet station wagon (The Super Stock classes came about from dividing the rated horsepower into the curb weight of the vehicle so you wanted a "class car," one that just entered the top of your class by that formula.) At the same time, I owned a Sunoco service station in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and used my business to sponsor the car. [For those that know drag racing, this was a heavy station wagon with a baby V8 engine, 265 cubic inch motor (bored to 272) with a two-barrel carburetor. I wasn't allowed to use a four speed for that combination, so had to slick shift a three speed.]
My best times were 14.1 seconds at 93 mph--not bad for a heavy car and baby motor. In 1971, I won at the National Championships and also won my eliminator bracket. Between the two racecars, I won 209 races (out of 218), 31 various championships, and set 13 strip records. I was runner-up in points one year. (I have moved several times during my life, so far, and have carried those trophies with me each time.)
Being in Connecticut, we could also pick up Alan Freed [on the radio] and I'd also hear things there that weren't yet in our record stores.
[Lance Monthly] Aside from your passion for racing cars, what prompted you into becoming the leading historian of Buddy Holly and The Crickets, Norman Petty, and the rest of the '50s West Texas rockabilly phenomenon?
Bill Griggs I was infatuated with the song "That'll Be the Day" the first time I heard it. It wasn't the singing, nor the lyrics. It was that guitar! Also, near the end of that song, there was a tempo change and no one missed a beat. That impressed me. Remember, at the time, I didn't know who Buddy Holly was, only that my favorite song was done by a group called The Crickets. That was the name of the artist on the record label.
On November 16, 1957, the "Biggest Show of Stars For 1957" tour came to the State Theater in Hartford. As I "hung around" there every weekend anyway, I saw that the Crickets were one of the acts and [I] wasn't about to miss it. When the Crickets came out, they performed four songs, the second to last being "Peggy Sue." I turned to Richard, my neighbor who had gone with me, and said, "That sounds like that Buddy Holly." "That IS Buddy Holly" was his reply, and that is when I learned it was Buddy Holly and the Crickets. I saw them again at the State on March 30, 1958, without Niki [Sullivan], who [had been] with them the first time.
Back then, most artists released a single. If it became a hit, their next single would mimic the previous hit. Buddy Holly and his group did not do that. "Day" was followed by "Oh Boy," "Peggy Sue," and so on--all completely different. Although I loved that guitar playing, I also fell in love with this group who played just like their records and [made] each song completely different. The Crickets were one of [the] few self-contained groups [that] didn't use backing by the orchestra as many other acts did.
I began collecting every record and article I could get my hands on pertaining to Buddy Holly and the Crickets and became quite a fan. Some school friends even called me "Buddy" at times, but I think that name was more for "pal" than for Buddy Holly.
On February 3, 1959, I was in my father's white 1957 Ford convertible driving back to school after lunch. (Kids back then, as they do today, kept turning the dial to find favorite songs on the radio and I did just that.) Local station WPOP was playing "That'll be the Day" and I turned it up loud and was driving down Hillside Avenue when the song ended. The deejay said, "And that's yet another hit song by the late Buddy Holly who died this morning in an airplane crash."
I remember pulling to the side of the road. [There were] no tears, just a state of shock. You see, our heroes are not supposed to die, at least that's what we teenagers thought. I remember saying to myself, "No more great music from him." I'm glad I was wrong. With the information I had at hand at that time, I was amazed at how much this young 22-year-old had accomplished in such a short time. I still wanted to learn more and more about him, his band, and his music.
Segue now to the late sixties. I was going along with the music of the day, but it seemed (to me) to be turning real sour. The Beatles were doing strange things, acid rock was in, and drugs seemed to be infecting the music. I turned back to the days when music was simpler [in] the 1950s, and rekindled my love for Buddy Holly and the Crickets.
In 1975, I was hosting my annual Rocknrollathon in my backyard, a get together of area record collectors, deejays, and sometimes an artist or two. We'd have three or four outdoor grills working hard and a barrage of music contests. [It was] just an afternoon of fun and games. Two of my friends and I were talking and one, knowing my adoration of Buddy Holly remarked, "It's too bad we don't hear him on the radio anymore." The other said, "Nothing in the fan and music magazines either." That was the spark that prompted me to organize the International Buddy Holly Memorial Society, which operated through the 1990s. I began publishing "Reminiscing" newsletter, later a full-fledged magazine, and began using all of that information and collectibles I had saved from the 1950s.
At the time, I was managing a K-Mart [store] and was totally dissatisfied with how they treated customers (behind their backs) and big business in general. I told my then-wife that I was going to quit and see if I could turn this part-time hobby into a full time business. I did. My research collection simply grew and grew. Being able to research and do interviews etc. full-time allowed me the luxury to delve more into that research.
In 1981, after many visits to Lubbock, Texas, I moved my family there. My friendship with Buddy's mother, Mrs. Ella Holley, grew and she called me many times asking me to "come over for a visit." We'd talk about anything and everything, not just Buddy, and she became my surrogate grandmother in Texas. Each time I was at her home (three blocks from my house), she'd bring something out and say, "Have I ever shown you this? When that auction took place at Sotheby's in 1990, I'd already seen most of that Buddy Holly memorabilia right there in the Holley home.
Mrs. Holley was a wonderful person whom I loved very much. I was honored to have been one of her pallbearers. I'm a pack rat and kept almost all of the things I had collected in the 1950s. I also tend to be meticulous in filing things so they can be retrieved easily later. Also, I hate to publish something with my name on it to later discover the info was wrong. I had to make a decision. Should I publish something quickly so I could be "first," or hold off until the info could be checked for accuracy and then print it. I opted for the latter and I guess I've become known for the guy who sticks to the facts and nothing else.
Through the years, I've been privileged to see a lot of information most others have not seen or were not privy to. I really don't wish to brag here, but I believe I can safely say that I've seen more historical documentation pertaining to Buddy Holly, his record company, and the Clovis connection than anyone else. I have copies in my files of all the checks written on the Buddy Holly and the Crickets' account in Clovis, numerous receipts, contracts, letters, and the like.
There's a lot of politics in the Buddy Holly story and I've upset a few people by not taking sides and simply telling it like it is. My rule is, if someone who was there tells me one thing, and I have a piece of paper from the era stating something differently, then I have to go with what's on that piece of paper. I'm not saying that people are making things up, but memories fade away after a length of time has passed. What's on that piece of paper hasn't changed since the day it was produced.
I guess I'm doing something right as I've received three gold records along the way for my achievements. One was from MCA Records in 1995 to thank me for what I had done and was doing as a Buddy Holly historian. Of course, indirectly, I've been making them money, but it was exceptionally pleasant to receive.
I do have to repeat what has to be the most wonderful compliment I've ever received. Larry Holley, Buddy's oldest brother, said on several occasions, "This man knows more about my brother than I do." Thank you for that trust, Larry. A hobby turned into an infatuation, then turned into a business (Boy, I hate that word, but that's what it is).
When I terminated the international Buddy Holly Memorial Society, I had about 5,500 members spread over all 50 states and 34 foreign countries. I then began publishing Rockin' 50s magazine, which I'm still doing as we talk here. Although heavy on Buddy Holly and West Texas music, Rockin' 50s has allowed me to expand into the entire 1950s era. As I had met a lot of those artists way back then and have met many during those days since because of what I do, I consider myself very lucky to have a job doing what I love to do.
I might also mention that by expanding into all of West Texas music, I've met more and more of those artists that either knew or performed with Buddy, and to a person, they are all very nice people. Of course, the reason I'm still here in West Texas is because I sincerely believe we have the nicest people anywhere, period.
Since then, I've gone through a divorce, lost my children (they're with their mother back in Connecticut), lived alone for ten years, then got together with a wonderful person. Sharon and I have so much in common, it's scary. We bought a house. We've traveled a lot (seven cruises during the past three years), and do everything together. She's made my life whole again and we're simply having a good time, living life, as it should be.
As I begin winding down my music avocation, I'm working more and more on my other hobby, collecting ocean liner memorabilia. I think the S.S. Normandy was the best-looking ocean liner ever built, and "That'll Be the Day" is still my favorite song!
[Lance Monthly] Have the Moonriders' releases ever been reissued, and if so, can you provide a link for our readers?
Bill Griggs No, none of the Moonriders' records [has] been reissued. Only about 500 were pressed of each and they are very hard to find.
[Lance Monthly] Bill, I too was very much taken by "That'll Be the Day" when I first heard it in my late teens. But being a sucker of haunting melodies, I pick "True Love Ways" as my favorite Holly tune, and have promised myself that one day, I would do an instrumental cover of it in the early traditional guitar rock style in which I specialize. So during the guitar-rock instrumental explosion of the late '50s and early '60s, did you develop any passion for Norman's instrumental releases by the Fireballs and The String-A-Longs? In addition, The Ventures became the leaders in this genre. Did you like their efforts as well?
Bill Griggs The song "True Love Ways" is very pretty, but has syrupy lyrics. As with parts of "Take Your Time" (the "ball of twine" art), these are Norman's lyrics, not Buddy's. Buddy's favorite gospel song was "I'll Be All Right" as done by the Angelic Gospel Singers. It was played at his funeral. If you listen to the melody of that, you'll hear the melody to "True Love Ways." That's where it came from.
According to several members of the Holley family, Buddy and his family were driving to Portales, New Mexico, to visit some family members. Portales is just below Clovis, so they stopped by the Petty Studio on the way out. Buddy gave Norman the melody and asked if Norman could do anything with it. Upon their return a day later, they stopped by Clovis again. Not only had Norman Petty written the lyrics to the song, he had his wife Vi record it, so she actually had it recorded first. Most of the Holly compositions state "Holly-Petty"; this is one that states "Petty-Holly."
When Buddy went to New York in October 1958 for the string sessions with Dick Jacobs, "True Love Ways" was one of those four songs he cut that day. Meanwhile, Vi re-recorded the song and it was pressed on Norman's Nor-Va-Jak label. It was never commercially released but given away to people that visited the studio. It's fairly rare today.
Yes, the Ventures sure made the guitar instrumental popular and they sold a lot of records, but didn't the Fireballs do that first? I consider George Tomsco a superb guitarist and you can hear his work all over any of those Fireballs releases, from their first record of "Fireball" to my all-time favorite of theirs, "Long Long Ponytail" . . . simply a great record.
The String-A-Longs were a good group and had a monster hit record with "Wheels" (That's another story!), but if I had to choose, I'd take the Fireballs. When the Fireballs were inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame (Now the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame), George asked me if I would do the induction speech, which I was honored to do. I've been a fan of that group for many, many years and still am.
[Lance Monthly] Why do you suppose it took so long for Lubbock, Texas, to honor Buddy Holly for his incredible musical achievements?
Bill Griggs To put it simply, Buddy Holly and the Crickets played rock 'n' roll music and that was the music of the devil, at least in the eyes of many of the ultra-conservative Lubbock people. We are called the "buckle of the Bible Belt" because we have more churches per capita than any other city this size. Because of that, it took a long time for the people to actually recognize what Buddy had accomplished in that short period of time.
I was asked many years ago to write an editorial for our newspaper about WHY Buddy Holly was so popular. Everyone here knew he was popular, but really didn't know the reason. That editorial ended up being a two-partner and the newspaper said they received a lot of calls and letters from people stating they now understood. I believe that is also one of the reasons for the late recognition. I hear Lubbock people coming out of the Buddy Holly Center saying things like "I didn't know he did all that!"
Buddy had been all but forgotten through the 1960s and 1970s. Then a few things took place that "brought him back in the public eye"[such as] that line in the movie "American Graffiti" by John Milner ("I hate that surfin' shit; rock 'n' roll's been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died."), [and] the song "American Pie" by Don McLean and its references to Buddy. I'd like to hope that the Buddy Holly Memorial Society from 1975 onward also had a bit to do with the resurgence.
Then, in 1978, the movie "The Buddy Holly Story" was released. Bad as it was for historical fact, it did bring the name of Buddy Holly to the forefront once again. There are Lubbockites even today who do not care for Buddy Holly and his music. Remember, we are primarily a country music town and rock 'n' roll here was a tiny island surrounded by boot-skipping country fans.
[Lance Monthly] Some of the artists with the Buddy Holly connection who I've interviewed for The Lance Monthly have stated that Petty was fair in his business relationships with them and others have stated otherwise. Since you have the various documents, etc., in reference to Norman Petty's business affairs, especially those of Buddy Holly, will you give our readers a clearer picture of this legendary recorder/producer such as his demeanor, business dealings, and fallout with Holly?
Bill Griggs The story of Norman Petty and his business dealings with the artists is a long and involved one. I'll try to be brief:
I've talked to several West Texas artists from the 1950s who recorded with Norman Petty and was told the same story by all. They had no money, but had written a good song. Norman heard it and then made the following proposition: "I'll record this and get it to the New York publishers and record companies. As they know me, I'll put my name on the song with yours. If the song makes it, then we'll all share. If it doesn't, then I'll take the loss." In my opinion, this is simply a business decision.
Consider this: Colonel Parker had 50% of Elvis Presley. Is that fair? Yes, it is fair because it was a business deal that both parties agreed to. It might not be moral, but the courts only look at legal, and that was legal.
Now for Buddy and Norman: As I've said, I've been privileged to [having] seen much of the paperwork generated by Buddy Holly and the Crickets during their tenure with Norman Petty. I've seen the entire run of checks written on the Crickets' account--also receipts, letters, contracts and such. I've been able to deduce much from all of that. When asked about the money earned by Buddy and the Crickets that was supposed to have been in that checking account and wasn't, Norman always said, "The boys nickeled and dimed that account to death." Having seen the checking account, I can say that they did just that.
There were many payouts for advances, car parts, and the like. I'm not saying this wasn't their money. It was, and they could do whatever they wanted with it. Royalty checks take a long time to trickle down to the artist. After the payment report (usually a month of two past the period covered), it might be another four to six months before the actual payment gets to the artist. Because of this, Buddy only saw one good royalty check during his lifetime. He received a check on August 26, 1958 for $14,462.74.
Let's talk about Buddy's financial condition during the last six months of his life and Manny Greenfield. Manny Greenfield had booked the group on the Dick Clark Show, the English tour, and many other venues. In return, he and Buddy had had a word of mouth agreement that Manny would receive a 5% commission on anything that he booked. These commissions were dutifully paid and I have the receipts and checks as proof. Sometime around July or August of 1958, Manny Greenfield felt he was Buddy's manager and should be receiving a commission on ALL of Buddy's earnings. "Not so," said Buddy. "Norman Petty is my manager and you are a booker who receives a 5% commission on anything you have booked for us."
Manny Greenfield then sued Buddy, through Norman. Because Manny lived in New York, and because Buddy lived (at the time) in Texas, and because there was a law that stated [that] if you are suing someone out-of-state about money generated in New York, then you could freeze those payments until the lawsuit was settled. This is exactly what Mr. Greenfield did.
There are stories that Norman Petty said he could make Buddy return [from New York] because he'd hold back his payments [if he didn't]. Norman couldn't have held back those payments because he didn't have those payments in the first place. They were frozen in New York. There is correspondence and other communications between Norman, Buddy, and various attorneys about this. Norman was trying to get those funds unfrozen so he could pay Buddy what was owed him.
Much of what I'm talking about, including the actual text of many of those legal letters, appear in my five-volume booklet set, "Buddy Holly Day-By-Day." I have copies of all of that so [I] can back up all that I had published. I'm not taking sides, only going where the facts lead me. If you were Norman Petty, being unfairly attacked from all sides, would you want to sit and give an interview? I guess not.
I've spoken with Norman Petty many times and, looking back, he was always honest with me with his answers to my questions. The only outright lie I could catch him in was the fact that he told many people [that] he was writing a book. After his death, Vi Petty said there never was any such book. I really wish there had been.
Why was Norman Petty left out of the movie? Instead of bashing Norman without facts, I wish some of these people would seek out that answer. I think it would open a lot of eyes. If Buddy Holly and Norman Petty really had a fallout, then I ask why Norman was named in Buddy's new company, Prism. Petty's name appears on the business cards and he had already bought shipping labels and other supplies for the fledgling company that never really got off the ground.
[Buddy’s mother], Mrs Ella Holley told me that Buddy had told her he was going to live in New York city for two years. While there (remember, back then it was the center of the music business), he would get to know all of the various music publishers and record label owners to be used for contacts. He'd then return to Lubbock in 1960 to build and operate his own recording studio. He had already purchased the property, had plans drawn up, and was talking to friends of his in Lubbock to come work for him. I believe that Buddy simply wanted to have total control over his music. He'd have the recording studio, a publishing company, a record label, and I'm sure, had he lived, he would have built a record pressing plant.
In my opinion, Norman Petty was a bad manager, learning as he went along. But I can not find him willfully "ripping" off the guys. Sure, it might still be hidden somewhere and I haven't found it yet. I doubt it, but should that be discovered, I'll certainly print that and tell everyone what was found.