(Digital Collections) An Open Letter to Andrew Lincoln, a.k.a. “The Walking Dead’s” Sheriff Rick Grimes

open_letter_andrew_lincoln_header Dear Mr. Lincoln,

That all of us at the Digital Projects Group are big fans of your work on America’s #1 Zombie Apocalypse Themed Television series is no surprise to anyone who reads this blog. Over the course of five seasons we’ve seen you grow from startled victim to grizzled leader of a hardened band of survivors. And far be it from us to tell you where you should go with Rick’s character development in season 6, but we found some information in our Baylor archives that we think would add some unexpected depth to a man pushed to the edge by events he can’t understand, let alone control.

I’m talking, of course, about playing the organ and joining a fraternity.

Now, hear me out. At first glance those don’t seem like the kind of skills RICK GRIMES would need in his tool set. But that would mean ignoring the contributions of two very real men named Rick Grimes, who happened to be Baylor students in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Rick Grimes I (The Organ Playing One)

The first Rick Grimes to show up in our records does so by way of an announcement of his junior organ recital.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 1.58.59 PMSee the original, full item here.

It was such a big deal, it even got coverage in the Lariat, the campus newspaper.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 2.02.11 PMSee the full newspaper issue here.

“Big deal,” you’re probably saying to yourself in your real, English accent. “So he could play a bunch of songs on an organ. How does that help Sheriff Rick?”

Well, take a listen (and look) at this clip of what the Toccata and Fugue in D minor sounds like, and tell us if that isn’t the perfect score for the post-zombie apocalypse.


Aside from it being atmospherically perfect for the blighted, paranoia-inducing nightmare landscape Sheriff Rick has to operate in every single day, the sheer complexity and overwhelming nature of it would stun every walker within a two-mile radius into complete submission by its awesomeness.

And 1961 Baylor student Rick Grimes played it – and five other pieces – to perfection.

Sure, toting around a gigantic pipe organ would be unrealistic. We’ll give you that one. But Sheriff Rick Grimes’ group spent time in a church this past season, and it’s not unrealistic to think that, now that you’re all in Alexandria, VA, you couldn’t just pop over to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and use its 1938 Skinner and Son Organ Company organ to effectively neutralize the zombie menace in our nation’s capital. We’re just saying.

Rick Grimes II (The Fraternity One)

Maybe more practical skills are the kind of thing you’d like to bring to your character next season. Fine – how about the companionship, leadership abilities and general bonhomie to be found in a fraternity? Then you could take a tip from 1970s Baylor student Rick Grimes, who was a member of Kappa Omega Tau (KOT), a local fraternity.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 2.21.43 PMClick here for full item in the 1974 Round Up.

Look at that group of fresh faced young men, ready to take on any challenge … including an outbreak of a killer virus that turns the recently deceased into ambulatory corpses. Yes, even that!

This image of 1970s Baylor Rick Grimes – taken from the KOT photo for 1972 – shows an upright, clear eyed young man with an eye toward his future …

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.00.51 AM… not unlike a certain group leader, whose steely reserve has seen his ad hoc family through a series of increasingly desperate trials.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.30.57 AMYou’re practically twins!

We’d never presume to tell you how to play your character next season. Heck, we’re just so excited to see what you’ll do now that you’re poised to assume an even larger role in the leadership of the Alexandria Safe Zone that we’d be happy if you wound up doing a total 180 with Sheriff Rick and turning him into some Father Gabriel style pacifist. (Actually, scratch that. We wouldn’t like that at all.)

But if season 6 finds you seated at an immense pipe organ, wearing a sash with Greek letters on it and grimly dispatching of rotters, walkers, biters and the like with just the skill in your fingers and the determination in your heart, we wouldn’t have a problem with that, either.


This post is part of a series of Open Letters to musicians, authors and others that we hope will connect our collections to prominent people in America. If you have someone to suggest, or if you’re the subject of this post and want to drop us a line, send us an email (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu).

Season 6 of The Walking Dead premieres this fall. You can follow them on Twitter at @walkingdead_amc.

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