John Frederick Riggs, a country singer-songwriter, died on September 17, 2021, at the age of 80.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Linda (née Baird), of Nashville, and son, Wayne, of Norman, Oklahoma, as well as his daughter-in-law Karen Antell, grandchildren Savannah Meisenheimer and Michael Riggs, sister-in-law Joyce Midgett, several nieces and nephews, and many long-time friends and neighbors.
Born in Mt. Carmel, Illinois, in 1941, John served in the U.S. Air Force from 1960 to 1965, where he especially enjoyed a two-year stint in Germany. After his discharge from the service, John’s dreams of country music stardom led him to Nashville, where he met and married Linda, the love of his life, to whom he was affectionately devoted for 51 years. From the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, John worked at the WSM radio station as right-hand man to the iconic Ralph Emery, who at that time hosted an all-night country music show popular all over the United States, especially among long-haul truckers. John’s time with Ralph Emery launched a career spanning more than 40 years, during which John had dozens of successful songs recorded by some of country music’s top artists. His most well-known songs include “How High Can You Build a Fire,” recorded by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and “Getting Over the Storm,” recorded by George Jones (and later the band UB40). John’s memoir, “A Songwriter’s Journey with Nashville Stars,” was published in 2017.
For 50 years, John and Linda lived in the White Bridge neighborhood of Nashville, where John was known as the “Mayor of Kendall Drive.” He is remembered as a neighbor who not only knew everyone on the street but cultivated a sense of community and friendship among residents of all ages.
No services are planned at this time.
PARTLOW FUNERAL CHAPEL in care of arrangements. 615-444-7007 www.partlowchapel.net