Liz Anderson, an influential songwriter and recording artist
who was instrumental in Merle Haggard’s early career, died Monday, Oct. 31, at St. Thomas
Hospital in Nashville, of complications from heart and lung disease.
Mrs. Anderson, the mother of prominent country singer Lynn Anderson and a founding
board member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, was 81.
Born Elizabeth Jane Haaby, Mrs. Anderson spent her early childhood in Pine Creek, Minn., a place
she described as “a cross in the road,” near the Canadian border. When she was 13, the family
moved to Grand Forks, N.D., where she met Casey Anderson: She was 16 when the couple married.
Daughter Lynn was 3 years old when the family moved to California, and Mrs. Anderson began
writing songs around 1957, just as the California country music scene was blossoming.
Del Reeves was the first country artist to record a song Mrs. Anderson wrote,
and in 1961 his version of Mrs. Anderson’s “Be Quiet Mind” became Reeves’ first Top 10 country hit.
Roy Drusky had a Top 20 hit with Mrs. Anderson’s “Pick Of The Week” in 1964,
the same year Bonnie Owens recorded Mrs. Anderson’s “Just Between The Two Of Us”
as a duet with Haggard.
Haggard soon became enamored of Mrs. Anderson’s “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” which hit
the charts at the beginning of 1965 and became Haggard’s first Top 10 country hit. He would go
on to record Anderson compositions including “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive,” “That Makes Two of Us”
and “The Worst Is Yet To Come.”
Others who have recorded Mrs. Anderson’s songs include
Lynn Anderson, Tammy Wynette, Connie Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, Ernest Tubb and Lorrie Morgan.
Mrs. Anderson’s move to Nashville came after Chet Atkins signed her to an RCA Records
contract in 1965. With a pleasing, girlish voice, she charted 15 songs for RCA, including Top 10
hits “Mama Spank” and “The Game of Triangles” (with Bobby Bare and Norma Jean).
A 1971 move to Epic Records produced no hits, but Mrs. Anderson enjoyed watching her daughter’s
star rise, as Lynn Anderson had begun her own ascent to fame beginning in 1966 when
she signed to Chart Records and continuing with Columbia Records hits including “Rose Garden,” “You’re My Man,”
"Keep Me In Mind” and “What A Man, My Man is.” Mrs. Anderson wrote Lynn Anderson’s
first three charting records.
Mrs. Anderson is survived by husband Casey Anderson, by daughter Lynn Anderson and by three grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, at Woodlawn-Roesch- Patton Funeral Home,
660 Thompson Lane. Visitation is Friday, Nov. 4, at Woodlawn, from 5-7 p.m. Flowers are welcome,
but donations may be directed to the NSAI Legislative Fund, 1710 Roy Acuff Place, Nashville, TN 37203.
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