Bobby Karl Works Bill Anderson’s Opry 50th Anniversary

Jon Randall, Alison Krauss, Bill Anderson, and Dan Tyminski

Chapter 370

Is it possible to grow young?

If it is, ageless Grand Ole Opry great Bill Anderson has mastered it. The enduring icon celebrated his 50th anniversary with the show Saturday night (7/16).

“This man has written a least one No. 1 hit in each of the past six decades,” observed Opry GM Pete Fisher. “Isn’t that amazing? It’s inspiring to all of us.”

Anderson took the stage at 8:30 p.m. to host the finale segment of the Opry’s early show. He told the crowd about his landmark anniversary, then sang the song that brought him to the show’s cast on July 15, 1961, “Po’ Folks.” Opry star Billy Grammer inducted him, Anderson recalled.

He introduced Connie Smith, the vocal titan he discovered and brought to fame. She sang “You and Your Sweet Love,” one of the more than half dozen hits he wrote for her.

Anderson co-writer Jon Randall was next. He began with “Cold Coffee Morning,” the first song the two wrote together. Their co-written, CMA Award winning “Whiskey Lullaby” was next. The crowd shouted with delight when Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski walked out unannounced to sing with Randall. Anderson, himself, was surprised.

“You got me – I had no idea,” he said to Randall. “Wow.”

Opry VP and GM Pete Fisher presents Bill Anderson with a Ryman Martin guitar, the 50th one ever produced.

Fisher presented Anderson with a custom-made Martin Ryman Guitar, the 50th one ever produced. A long, standing ovation ensued.

“I don’t know what to say,” Anderson stammered. “I think I’ll go home tonight and try to write a song.” He brought out his son, two daughters and eight grandchildren to share the stage with him as he sang his signature song “Still.”

More than 500 of his fan club members were in the Opry House. One of them presented him with a huge bouquet of congratulatory yellow roses.

“Thanks to the Opry for letting me hang my hat here for 50 years,” he said, before concluding with his traditional closing song snippet from “Bright Lights and Country Music.”

“I’ll be around for 50 more years if you’ll have me,” Anderson said to Fisher backstage. “Why stop at 50?” Fisher replied.

“This guy just won’t quit,” Fisher told the backstage party crowd. “You stand for so much of what the Opry stands for, celebrating the legacy and looking to the future. People love you and they want to be a part of these special moments.”

“It’s been an unbelievable life and career,” Anderson responded. “I think there are three things that are responsible for my longevity. There’s good health, good luck and good friends. You are my friends, and I thank you.”

Celebrants included Troy Tomlinson, Buddy Cannon, Steve Gibson, Don Schlitz (like Anderson, a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame), Hege V, Dan Rogers, Keith Bilbrey, Betty Hofer, Bob Paxman and Bobby Braddock (who shares both Nashville Songwriters and Country Music Hall of Fame memberships with Anderson). Jessi Alexander had to do her partying sitting down. She is way pregnant with identical twin boys. Neither she nor hubby Jon Randall have twins in their families, they said.

Fellow Opry stars Riders in the Sky, Jeannie Seely, George Hamilton IV and Jan Howard also joined the backstage party. So did Opry guest singers Jimmy Wayne (“I Love You This Much”) and James Wesley (who introduced his new Broken Bow single “Didn’t I” to the Opry crowd).

Meanwhile Bill Anderson’s fellow Hall of Famers Jean Shepard and Jimmy Dickens carried on, on stage. So did Mike Snider, Ronnie Milsap (singing Tennessee’s newest state song, “Smoky Mountain Rain”) and The Opry Square Dancers.

The backstage bash had the best catering of any music party I’ve been to in recent memory. In addition to beef and ham carving stations, the layout featured mini beef Wellington puffs with mushroom, mac and cheese poppers with ham, sour cream and blue cheese potato salad, radicchio and cabbage apple cider slaw, pulled pork biscuits, cheddar grits, oven-roasted mushrooms and whipped potatoes topped with bacon bits, sour cream and chives. Not to mention the giant anniversary cake.

“You’re the only writer I know who can make me hungry by describing party food,” quoth the golden-anniversary man.

Thank you. We aim to please.

Bill Anderson Songs
During his unprecedented career, Bill Anderson has written more than 100 charted singles. Here are some highlights.

1958—“City Lights” Ray Price No. 1
1959—“Riverboat” Faron Young No. 4
“That’s What It’s Like to Be Lonesome” Ray Price No. 7
1960—“I Missed Me” Jim Reeves No. 3
“Tip of My Fingers” Bill Anderson No. 7
“Walk Out Backwards” Bill Anderson No. 9
1961—“When Two Worlds Collide” Roger Miller No. 6
“Po’ Folks” Bill Anderson No. 9
1962—“Must You Throw Dirt in My Face” The Louvin Brothers No. 21
“Losing Your Love” Jim Reeves No. 2
“Mama Sang a Song” Bill Anderson No. 1
1963—“I’ve Enjoyed As Much of This As I Can Stand” Porter Wagoner No. 7
“Tip of My Fingers” Roy Clark No. 10
“Still” Bill Anderson No. 1
1964—“Saginaw, Michigan” Lefty Frizzell No. 1
“Once a Day” Connie Smith No. 1
1965—“Then and Only Then” Connie Smith No. 4
“Think I’ll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep” Charlie Louvin No. 26
“Bright Lights and Country Music” Bill Anderson No. 11
1966—“Bad Seed” Jan Howard No. 10
“Tip of My Fingers” Eddy Arnold No. 3
“Nobody But a Fool” Connie Smith No. 4
“I Love You Drops” Bill Anderson No. 4
“I Get the Fever” Bill Anderson No. 1
1967—“Cold Hard Facts of Life” Porter Wagoner No. 2
“Cincinnati, Ohio” Connie Smith No. 4
1968—“Wild Weekend” Bill Anderson No. 2
1969—“When Two Worlds Collide” Jim Reeves No. 6
“You and Your Sweet Love” Connie Smith No. 6
“My Life (Throw it Away If I Want To)” Bill Anderson No. 1
1970—“I Never Once Stopped Loving You” Connie Smith No. 5
“If It’s All the Same to You” Bill Anderson & Jan Howard No. 2
1971—“Dis-Satisfied” Bill Anderson & Jan Howard No. 4
“Quits” Bill Anderson No. 3
1972—“All the Lonely Women in the World” Bill Anderson No. 5
1973—“Slippin’ Away” Jean Shepard No. 4
“The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” Cal Smith No. 1
1974—“At the Time” Jean Shepard No. 13
“Every Time I Turn the Radio On” Bill Anderson No. 7
1975—“City Lights” Mickey Gilley No. 1
“Sometimes” Bill Anderson & Mary Lou Turner No. 1
1976— “Mercy” Jean Shepard No. 49
1978—“I Can’t Wait Any Longer” Bill Anderson No. 4
“Double S” Bill Anderson No. 30
1979—“I May Never Get to Heaven” Conway Twitty No. 1
1980—“Get a Little Dirt on Your Hands” David Allan Coe No. 46
“When Two Worlds Collide” Jerry Lee Lewis No. 11
1982—“Southern Fried” Bill Anderson No. 42
1983—“Son of the South” Bill Anderson No. 71
1985—“Pity Party” Bill Anderson No. 62
1987—“Sheet Music” Bill Anderson No. 80
1989—“City Lights” Mel Tillis No. 67
1992—“Tips of My Fingers” Steve Wariner No. 3
1995—“Which Bridge to Cross” Vince Gill No. 4
1997—“One Small Miracle” Bryan White No. 16
1999—“Wish You Were Here” Mark Wills No. 1
“Two Teardrops” Steve Wariner No. 2
2000—“Faith in You” Steve Wariner No. 28
2001—“Too Country” Brad Paisley No. 58, CMA Award
2002—“A Lot of Things Different” Kenny Chesney No. 1
“Snowfall on the Sand” Steve Wariner No. 52
2003—“Sell a Lot of Beer” The Warren Brothers No. 51
2004—“Whiskey Lullaby” Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss No. 3, CMA Award
2006—“Give It Away” George Strait No. 1, CMA Award
2007—“I’ll Wait for You” Joe Nichols No. 1
2009—“Joey” Sugarland No. 1

 

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