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Songwriter Liz Anderson Dies at 80

Liz Anderson

Photo courtesy of Showboat Records.

GAC extends condolences to the family, friends and fans of songwriter Liz Anderson, mother of “Rose Garden” singer Lynn Anderson. Liz passed away October 31 at the age of 80 from complications of heart and lung disease. Liz and her husband Casey were successful songwriters, with Merle Haggard’s “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers” and “(I’m A Lonesome) Fugitive” among their compositions.

Born in Roseau, Minnesota, Liz played mandolin as a child and sang in her local church choir. At 13, her family moved to Grand Fork, North Dakota and at 16, she married husband Casey. Lynn was born a year later. In 1957, the family moved to Sacramento, California where the limited popularity of country music led Liz to start writing songs. Casey was a member of the Sherriff’s Posse which was going to take part in the National Centennial Pony Express Celebration . He convinced his wife to write a song in honor of the Pony Express, which went on to be named the celebration’s official song.

Liz began publishing songs and made friends with the growing country music community in Bakersfield during the early 60s. Some of her earliest hits were “Be Quiet Mind” recorded by Del Reeves and “Pick of the Week” recorded by Roy Drusky. Many artists in the 1960s recorded at least one of her songs on their albums, including Charley Pride, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Kitty Wells, Connie Smith and Bill Anderson. She went on to publish more than 260 songs during her career and earned five BMI Awards.

Chet Atkins signed Liz to RCA in 1965. Her first two singles fared well while her third, “Game of Triangles,” with Bobby Bare and Norma Jean became a Top 5 hit. Some of her other hits included “Mama Spank,” “Go Now Pay Later,” “Thanks A Lot For Tryin’ Anyway” and “Husband Hunting.” Liz also wrote a number of her daughter Lynn’s early hits, including her 1967 debut single “Ride Ride Ride” as well as her first big hit, “If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away).”

Liz semi-retired from the industry in 1974 and has since only made a handful of recordings. She continued to write, however, and had a cut in 1979 when Lorrie Morgan recorded “Tell Me I’m Only Dreaming.” In the mid-1990s, Liz started her own record label, Showboat Records and released her first album, The Cowgirl Way, in over a decade. In 2006, Lynn released her album Cowgirl on the label, comprised entirely of songs written by her mother.

Visitation for Liz will be held November 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. and her funeral will be the following day at 11:30 a.m. at Woodlawn-Roesch Patton Funeral Home in Nashville. Her family welcomes flowers but asks that donations be directed towards the NSAI Legislative Fund.

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