It was a two-for-one gala Tuesday (Aug. 10) as friends and associates gathered at Nashville's BMI headquarters to help Andy Griggs celebrate the release of his third RCA Records album, This I Gotta See, and his 31st birthday.
Looking sunburned and happy, Griggs circulated among the guests -- chatting, hugging and accepting congratulations -- until he was hauled away for publicity photos. The well-wishers included RCA label chieftain Joe Galante; Griggs' managers, Donny Kees and Erv Woolsey; his producer, Randy Scruggs; singer Michael Peterson; and songwriters Marcus Hummon, Neil Thrasher, Frank Myers and Sonny Lemaire (the latter a former member of the group Exile).
"Thanks, y'all," Griggs told the crowd. "If you're here, you had something to do with this record." This I Gotta See had arrived in record stores earlier in the day. As he's done with his two previous albums, Griggs related, he went to a local store to make sure the album was stocked and to buy a copy.
"I walked into Tower Records today," he continued, "and I bought a Scarface poster and an album. The guy at the checkout seemed more interested in the poster [than my album]. I asked him if a lot of people were asking for it [meaning the album], and he said, 'Yeah, a lot of people like Al Pacino.'"
Griggs gave his most heartfelt thanks to his bus driver, road manager and band, citing each of them by name and emphasizing how crucial they were to his career. He credited the band with making his live concerts match the quality of the music he makes in the studio.
Scruggs praised Griggs' talent as a vocalist. "He stepped up to the plate," he said, "and I think he hit a grand slam with this [album]."
Early in the party, Griggs spoke with CMT.com about "Georgia Peaches," the duet he's recorded with Larry Sparks for the bluegrass legend's 40th anniversary album. "I'm a big old fan of Larry Sparks," he said, noting that he had met the older singer when they both were playing the bluegrass circuit. "He's my vocal model."
The party ended with the guests singing "Happy Birthday" to the guest of honor, whose real birthday is Aug. 13. As he started to blow out the candles on his cake, Griggs announced, "I'll make a wish that Al Pacino sells a million copies of that Scarface poster."