Andy Griggs was beginning to think it was never going to happen.
At least that’s the tale that unfolded Thursday (July 6) during a surprise party held to celebrate the gold certification of Griggs’ first album, You Won’t Ever Be Lonely. (A gold designation by the Recording Industry Association of America signifies shipments of 500,000 copies.)
“Andy has been concerned about [his album] sales,” RCA Label Group chairman Joe Galante told the hundreds of well-wishers gathered at Nashville’s Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery. He said Griggs had become increasingly anxious and inquisitive in recent weeks.
Still in shock, Griggs confessed that he had grown more than a little anxious about the performance of his album. “They made me think that I was losing sales,” he marveled.
The label-wide conspiracy paid off. Griggs was clearly surprised. When he entered the room — to shouts of “Surprise!” and the blaring of his “You Made Me That Way” — he stood dazed for a moment before plunging into the crowd and reflexively hugging everyone within arm’s reach.
Recalling the day Griggs auditioned for him, Galante said the young singer ended his set with a hard-bitten and potentially risky song called “Cocaine.” “It wasn’t so much the song [that impressed me], it was Andy,” Galante asserted. “As a record company, you always look for people who are distinctive. He is that.”
Galante also noted that Griggs is a passionate fan of RCA’s one-time resident “outlaw,” Waylon Jennings. “For those of us who have been around Waylon,” he observed, “there are a lot of similarities … that are good.”
The gold album Galante presented Griggs was wreathed by segments of the Louisiana state flag — Griggs is from Monroe, La. — and set against a picture of the state bird, the pelican. Accentuating the Louisiana motif was a table of native delicacies prepared by Tony Chachere’s Creole Foods of Opelousas.
In accepting the album, Griggs said, “Every time I close my eyes, this has been the only thing that I have seen for the past several months.” After thanking RCA’s promotion staff, his manager, his producer and others in his support team, Griggs turned to his wife Stephanie and said, “You’re the strongest person in this room, and I love you.”
There remained one more presentation. Joe Fiato, of Hermitage Archery Supplies, gave Griggs, who is a bowhunter, a Mathews compound bow with his name emblazoned on it. “There’s the Martin [guitar], and there’s the Mathews bow,” Griggs proclaimed, flashing a now-I-have-it-all grin.