Tom Riggs, founder of the bluegrass label Pinecastle Records, has died. Riggs passed away on Saturday, Aug. 30. He was 78 years old.

Riggs parlayed his first career as a successful Pizza Hut franchise owner into his second business as an entrepreneur in bluegrass. After creating Pinecastle Records, he released several records for winners of the Pizza Hut Challenge band competition. When he sold his restaurants back to PepsiCo in 1990, he used his support for bluegrass as part of his final sales agreement.

In addition to Pinecastle Records, Riggs also launched the syndicated radio program 'American Acoustic Country,' which once reached more than 250 radio stations across the nation.

Known as the Colonel, because he was named an official Kentucky Colonel for his tireless work with the Boy Scouts, Riggs is credited with expanding the popularity of bluegrass music, releasing albums by some of the most well-known artists in the genre, including the Osborne Brothers, the Reno Brothers, Special Consensus, Dale Ann Bradley, Eddie & Martha Adcock, Grasstowne, Larry Stephenson, Bill Emerson, Wildfire and many others.

Pinecastle Records shut down in 2010 when Riggs' diabetes progressed so that he ultimately needed 24-hour care.

The Boot extends our deepest condolences to Riggs' family.