As I mentioned earlier, Lynn Anderson passed away last night at the age of 67. Despite being saddened by her death, I’m really not very good at summing up people’s lives in a tidy little package. That said, here’s the full press release I received in my inbox a few moments ago announcing Lynn’s passing for those who like to know less about the death and more about the life of great singers from the past.
Lynn Anderson, the country music legend who held the “Top Grossing Song by a Female Artist” for 27 years with the signature tune Rose Garden, passed on Thursday, July 30th at the age of 67 at the Vanderbilt Medical Center. She is survived by her father Casey Anderson, loving partner and songwriter Mentor Williams, three children, Lisa Sutton, Melissa Hempel and Gray Stream and four grandchildren.
Ms. Anderson was truly a trailblazer on the country music scene and her voice is recognized across Tennessee as the vocalist behind one of the iconic state songs Rocky Top. She’s charted three #1 and 15 Top-20 albums, as well as 12 #1, 18 Top-10, and over 50 Top-40 singles throughout her career. As one of the first to be launched via television, Lynn’s featured performances on The Lawrence Welk Show served as the only country music on network television at the time. Billboard would recognized her as “Artist of the Decade” for 1970-1980. In addition, she was the first female country singer to headline and sell out Madison Square Garden in 1974. Her signature single, (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden in addition to other top hits like Ride, Ride, Ride (written by her mother the late Liz Anderson), Cry, Top of the World and Someday Soon, spring boarded Lynn into a career with over 30 million albums sold worldwide.
Ms. Anderson was awarded numerous accolades from the music community. In 1967, she captured her first Academy of Country Music Award for “Female Vocalist of the Year.” She would gain a second win in that category in 1970. The Country Music Association would bestow the same honor in 1971 for “Female Vocalist of the Year.” Ms. Anderson would win a Grammy in 1971 as well for “Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.” In 1974, she won “Favorite Female Country Artist” at the American Music Awards and the following year she was honored with “Favorite Country Artist” at the People’s Choice Awards.
Her success in the equestrian community was equally as monumental as her music career, winning 16 National Championships and four world championships across the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA). She was known for raising the champion breeds as her horses captured numerous titles—Lady Phase (first AQHA World Champion and Breyer Horse Model), Skip’s Challenge (two time Congress Champion and Amateur Western Pleasure), Delta (Paint Horse Hall of Fame), etc.
Ms. Anderson most recently released the highly anticipated, critically-acclaimed Gospel album Bridges on Center Sound Records. This project took on a uniquely special connection as it developed into a family affair. Liz Anderson’s song My Guardian Angel, published by her father Casey, is featured on the album and her partner Mentor Williams rewrote one of his top hits Drift Away for release as well. Lynn recently told Billboard, “I’ve been so blessed in my life that things have kind of seemed to fall in place for me. I just have to keep on the right path, and not jaunt off to the left or the right. I love how the lyrics of Wander’s Prayer [on Bridges] speaks of asking the Lord to keep me in the right direction.”
One of the keys to Lynn’s success was that she always made her fans a priority. Since the inaugural year of Fan Fair (now CMA Music Festival) in 1972, Lynn has only missed one year due to illness as she greatly valued the direct connection to her devoted and loving fans at that event.
She has raised millions for a variety of charities throughout her career. For twenty years, she has worked with both the Roundup for Autism and the Cariety Foundation, an organization supporting families of cancer patients. Other notable contributions were made to the Mary Kay Ash Foundation, The North American Riders for the Handicapped Association and military support organizations.
Funeral services will be held at Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home & Memorial Park. Full details on the services will be announced as they are made available.
The country music community and industry weigh in on her achievements below:
“I am a huge fan of Lynn’s. She was always so nice to me. She did so much for the females in country music. Always continuing to pave the road for those to follow. I loved her music and her love for horses. Rose Garden was a song I sang in high school in our Kiowa Cowboys High School band. She will be missed.” Reba McEntire.
“It was a pleasure to record with Lynn. I remember the first time we saw her at the Utah State Fair. We were playing the small stage and we finished early enough to see her on the main stage. She owned Utah that night. She didn’t stop until she won everybody’s hearts including mine. She sang her way to heaven.” Duane Allen of The Oak Ridge Boys.
“Lynn was such a sweet lady and a true classic. I loved her and I loved listening to her sing I’ve Never Loved Anyone More and Rose Garden. It was so great to hang out with her recently at CMA Music Festival. We will all miss her, her great smile and her sweet spirit.” Phil Vassar
“Losing Lynn Anderson is a personal loss to the Nashville Songwriters Association (NSAI). Lynn was family. Her parents, Casey Anderson and the late Liz Anderson, were two of NSAI’s founding members. Her parents were given the “Stephen Foster” award by NSAI in February this year, where Lynn performed. We will truly miss her.” Bart Herbison, Executive Director of Nashville Songwriters Association.
“Lynn Anderson will always be a part of the Center Sound Records’ family. We were very fortunate to know her and have her on our label. This legend’s grace and voice will forever missed. There is one more rose in God’s garden. Rest in peace.” Craig & Mary Brandwynne – Center Sound Records.
“It has been an honor to represent Lynn Anderson for almost a decade and our sincere condolences are extended to her family, friends and a fans.” says Pam Lewis of PLA Media.