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Lynn and Liz Anderson

2/3/2004:

It was on this day in 1971 that country singer Lynn Anderson’s Rose Garden went gold. The album earned Lynn 15 more gold albums worldwide, and back in the states, it ended up going platinum.

Bios on Lynn Anderson usually say, “Born in Grand Forks, ND, September 26th, 1947, raised in Sacramento, California.” There’s a little more to it than that. Lynn’s mother, Liz Haaby, grew up in northern Minnesota in a family that was both poor and religious. When Liz was 13, the family moved to Grand Forks. By age 16, Liz was married, and a year later she gave birth to Lynn. Lynn’s father, Casey Anderson, was in the navy at the time, so Liz spent the next four years raising her daughter alone in Grand Forks.

In 1951, Casey got out of the navy and moved his young family to California where he was going to attend school to learn about jet engines. But they were so broke, he took a job selling cars, and Liz went to business school to become a secretary. But Liz also had a great talent for writing songs. Her husband started to encourage her, and slowly, she became successful with it.

Young Lynn was showing talent as well. By the time she was six, she was doing a little performing, but she also had another gift – working with horses. As a child, she started competing in horse shows riding quarter horses. Then she started winning. In all, she brought home over 700 trophies in addition to being crowned 1966 California Horse Show Queen.

As a teenager living in Sacramento, Lynn started performing as a singer and guitarist. It was about this time that mother Liz got a recording contract of her own, with Lynn supplying some of the background vocals. The two of them traveled to Nashville, where young Lynn got her first real break in music. She did some recording for the Chart label and cut a duet with Jerry Lane for her first single.

Lynn’s first solo single came in 1966 with In Person, but it was the next year that she scored her first Top-40 country hit with Ride, Ride, Ride, which was written by... her mother. That same year, she hit the country Top Five with If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away), and again in 1968 with Promises, Promises, then again in 1969 with That's a No No.

Her success got her a spot on television when Lawrence Welk added her to his weekly lineup. In fact, she was the only country singer of her time to become a regular on a television program. After while, though, she tired of stereotypical hay-wagon settings and left the band.

Lynn moved to Nashville and released a string of great songs, but it was Rose Garden that finally put her over the top. Since then, she has sung for presidents and royalty. Remember her song, I was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool? Well, she was right. Lynn Anderson got her own CBS special when such things simply didn’t happen and was one of the first to prove that country music could enjoy as much national appeal as any other style of music.

And mother Liz? Well, that’s a story for another day.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm