Music

Lynn Anderson and Her 'Rose Garden' Tune Is Still on Our Minds

Lynn Anderson flashes a smile on her arrival at Heathrow Airport in London, after an A.T.V. appearance in Holland, March 10, 1971. Her song “Rose Garden” has put her high in the charts in both the U.S. and Britain. She will be seen in a recorded appearance on the BBC TV’s Top of the Pops program tomorrow evening. (AP Photo/Press Association)

Lynn Rene Anderson was one of the most important female country music voices of her time. She was one of the biggest names in the genre by 1970, and helped pave the way for other future Nashville stars during her celebrated career. 

Anderson was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1947 but her songwriter parents, Casey and Liz Anderson raised her in California. She had a knack for performing early on, singing at local horse shows as well as the local program Country Caravan. 

Anderson was working as a secretary at a radio station in California when her mother's song, "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers" was recorded by the great Merle Haggard and became a hit. Her mother secured a record deal with RCA Victor and when she moved to Nashville, Lynn went with her. She was quickly discovered by Chart Records and released her debut single, "For Better or for Worse" in 1966.

Her first major single, "If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)" was released the following year and hit number 5 on the Billboard chart. Multiple charting singles followed, including one of many collaborations with her mother, "Mother May I." She even regularly performed on The Lawrence Welk Show. Anderson's career was up and running and by 1970 she moved over to Columbia Records. 

Perhaps the biggest song of her career was her first single with Columbia, "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden." The Joe South song was produced by her husband at the time, Glenn Sutton, but Anderson really had to push to be able to record the song. Sutton felt like the song should be recorded by a man, but luckily her label had her back and knew it would be a hit. They were right. The song was an incredible pop crossover success, hitting number one on the country charts, number 3 on the pop charts, and in the top 5 in various international countries. The song secured Anderson ACM's Top Female Vocalist award, CMA's Female Vocalist of the Year award and a Grammy award. 

Two number one hit singles followed with "You're My Man," "How Can I Unlove You" and "Keep Me In Mind" in 1973, proving that Anderson was on top of the world in the '70s. She made appearances on multiple TV shows included a role in Starsky & Hutch and Bobe Hope TV specials. She was even first female country star to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Not too shabby.

Anderson continued releasing music through the '80s, including the top 10 hit on the country charts "You're Welcome to Tonight,'' a duet with Gary Morris. Her last charting single of her career was "How Many Hearts," which peaked at 69 in 1989.

After that, the country artist dabbled a bit more in acting, starring in the BBC Scotland TV drama The Wreck on the Highway as well as various other projects. By 1999, she was inducted into the Country Music Association's International Hall of Fame. The following year, Tennessee governor Don Sundquist named June 15 "Lynn Anderson Day."

Until her death in 2015, Anderson was also a popular concert performer. She made appearances over the years at the Stagecoach Festival, CMA Fest, and even the Grand Ole Opry. She even released a Grammy nominated bluegrass album in 2004, The Bluegrass Sessions.

Anderson died on July 30, 2015 after suffering a heart attack. She is buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery (the "Cemetery of Country Stars"). In 2018 the cemetery even established The Lynn Anderson Rose Garden, which is comprised of of 200 Lynn Anderson Hybrid Rose Bushes (the National Rose Society of America named them after the country singer) in honor of the song that became the signature song of her career.

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Lynn Anderson and Her 'Rose Garden' Tune Is Still on Our Minds