Culture Code

Mar 6th, 2013 | By | Category: Archives

Rick Griffis and Mary Ann Heddon’s new book Culture Club gives a new twist to pop music.

Rick Griffis, ’76, and Mary Ann Heddon’s new book, Culture Code, The Music Vol.1, is about pop culture music but with a twist.

The book holds an embedded puzzle, and clues are provided on the website to help find the answers in the book.

Each entry for a band contains two key pieces of information that link it to two other bands until all 200 bands in the book are linked together in a specific order.

“Mary Ann and I used to be an on-call team for the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit at South Georgia Medical Center,” said Griffis. “We worked together most weekends we were on call. Once patients are prepped and put in the hyperbaric chamber for treatment, we had plenty of time to talk. We both share an interest in trivia and puzzles. One of the recurring topics of conversation was about how certain rock bands got their names. We found ourselves frequently saying that we should write a book. So, eventually we did.”

Griffis and Heddon decided to start with the music of the last 50 years, from about 1960 to 2010, better known as the music of the Baby Boomer generation. They started out by making a list of over 500 bands from the period, including those that sold the most records, were the most enduring, were important to a specific genre of music, or had otherwise distinguished themselves. From there, they made list upon list of possible links and created an answer key. In narrowing down the bands, they settled on 400 and split them into two volumes to make the solutions more manageable.

“The writing process was a lot of back and forth between us,” said Heddon. “Occasionally, in the middle of the writing, we’d discover a new clue and rework the solution to accommodate it. Rick’s more of the music person. I’m more of a puzzle person. I

love the challenge of a puzzle; it’s like a math problem that I feel compelled to solve.”

The first volume contains 200 specific bands selected not only for their place in music history but also because they could be linked together. The book is not just a puzzle but also a contest. The first person to submit the correct solution wins $5,000. Griffis and Heddon plan to release a second volume of music with the same format and another $5,000 prize. If all goes according to plan, subsequent volumes addressing other defining aspects of our culture will follow, including the movies, two more music volumes that celebrate solo artists, television, and possibly the literature.

“The writing process involved creating the puzzle and the links first, and then writing the entries for each band,” said Griffis. “We tried to draw content from Wikipedia as our primary source.”

If a puzzle and a contest were not enough, the book is also a charitable initiative. At least 10 percent of profits will be donated to MusiCares, an organization that helps musicians in need.

Griffis has been a respiratory therapist for 35 years and is the administrative director of pulmonary services at South Georgia Medical Center. He is responsible for the respiratory care, pulmonary diagnostics, neurodiagnostics, and sleep center service areas. He received his undergraduate degree from Valdosta State University and his graduate degree from Emory University.

Heddon has been a registered nurse for 35 years, working in critical care and oncology for most of those years. She taught in the School of Nursing at VSU in the early 1990s, before it became the College of Nursing. Currently, she runs the clinical research program at the Pearlman Cancer Center at South Georgia Medical Center. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Medical College of Georgia.

For more information about the book, visit