100 Greatest Women, #32: Lynn Anderson

100 Greatest Women


Lynn Anderson

She was the daughter of songwriters Casey and Liz Anderson. Raised in California, she witnessed the West Coast country music scene when it was most vital. But in her early years, she was as likely to perform with a horse as she was with a microphone, winning the California Horse Show Queen title in 1966.

At that time, her mom was scoring some hits on the country charts, so daughter followed mother into the music business. She recorded for the small label Chart, and found success quickly. After scoring hits with “If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)” and “Promises, Promises”, she was named the then-regional ACM’s Top Female Vocalist in 1968. Her album Promises, Promises went to #1, and in 1969, just missed the top spot with her single “That’s a No No.”

Her success on Chart caught the attention of Columbia Records, who coaxed her away from the smaller label in 1970. But before she left, she recorded “Rocky Top”, which wasn’t a huge chart hit but became one of her signature songs, not to mention an official state song of Tennessee. Only five months later, Anderson became a superstar when she released the mega-hit “Rose Garden.” With its dramatic strings and “I beg your pardon…” hook, the song exploded in both the country and pop markets. It was a gold single and the title track of a platinum album. The song won her a Grammy the following year, and she was named Female Vocalist by both the CMA and the now-national ACM.

The crossover appeal of “Rose Garden” broadened Anderson’s audience, and Anderson became one of the first country artists to become a regular on the Hollywood talk and variety show circuits. Her country hits had an extra coat of pop sheen, and in the early seventies, she was as popular as any female artist had ever been in country music. She had #1 singles with “You’re My Man”, “Keep Me in Mind”, “How Can I Unlove You” and “What a Man, My Man Is”, and her 1972 hit “Cry” became a country classic, later revived by Crystal Gayle in the eighties.

Anderson stayed with Columbia throughout the seventies and early eighties, adopting a sexier image at the dawn of the me decade. By then her hit run has slowed down, but her enduring popularity made her a top draw on the road. She briefly retired, but was back in 1983 with the appropriately titled album Back. A duet with Gary Morris from the project, “You’re Welcome to Tonight”, became her final top ten hit.

Throughout the eighties and nineties, Anderson focused on her charity work and equestrian interests, recording only sporadically. In 2004, she followed the lead of many veteran artists and recorded a bluegrass album called The Bluegrass Sessions. Her next release, Western Girl, swept the Academy of Western Awards in 2007, where she won Best Female Vocalist, Best Western CD and Best Western Swing CD.

Lynn Anderson

Essential Singles

  • “Rocky Top”, 1970
  • “Rose Garden”, 1970
  • “You’re My Man”, 1971
  • “How Can I Unlove You”, 1971
  • “Cry”, 1972

Essential Albums

  • Promises, Promises, 1968
  • Rose Garden, 1970
  • You’re My Man, 1971
  • Cry, 1972

Industry Awards

  • ACM Top Female Vocalist, 1968 & 1971
  • CMA Female Vocalist, 1971
  • Grammy: Best Female Country Vocal Performance (“Rose Garden), 1971

==> #31. Rose Maddox

<== #33. Lee Ann Womack

100 Greatest Women: The Complete List


  1. Lynn Anderson had an extended stay at the top (her five-year peak period was as dominant as any female ever had) and was an interesting, if overly frenetic, live performer. She apparently has an odd personality as most of her recent headlines have had to do with events outside of her singing career but as a singer she was one of the best. Her recordings were the epitome of the “Country Cocktail” style of Glenn Sutton & Billy Sherrill, even more so than their work with George Jones, David Houston and Tammy Wynette. She was a truly great recrding artist

    Random thoughts:

    Lynn Anderson received major exposure early in her career through her stint on the LAWRENCE WELK SHOW broadcast on ABC. She and Pete FOuntain were the two alumni of the show to really hit it big

    “Cry” was a massive pop hit of the 1950s for Johnny Ray. Lynn’s recording was a slightly tamer version of the song than Johnny Ray’s

    Many of her earlier hits her penned by her mother, Liz Anderson. Liz won’t show up in your top 100 (her chart debut was only a few months before Lynn’s, but she is worth a listen, and she was an engagingg songwriter

  2. “But in her early years, she was as likely to perform with a horse as she was with a microphone, winning the California Horse Show Queen title in 1966.”…. thats a pretty dangerous line, out of context, lol

  3. 1967-1974 Lynn Anderson was every bit as big as Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, then at the peak of their careers, and considerably bigger in this era than Dolly Parton. She was the first country female star to crack primetime television non-country programs with frequency. She also went on to have 22 years of top 40 country hits, listing her at only #32 is at least twelve slots too low.

  4. This list is a joke! Lynn Anderson at #32? Please! She’s the one who got me listening to country music back in the early 70s, as a kid, because she was about the only one you’d see on mainstream TV – mainly because she wasn’t hardcore country. She brought about a certain class to the genre that no lady, prior, had been able to do. As another poster wrote, in the ’70s, she was as big as Tammy Wynette and/or Loretta Lynn – and, at the time, much bigger than Dolly. Whomever compiled this list/rankings, needs to get a little better informed. Just sayin’ !

  5. I totally agree with you evan. To rate Lynn Anderson at no. 32 is a pure joke. She was, in my opinion a better country singer than say Dolly Parton.She belongs to the class of Pasty Cline, Tammy wynnette and Donna Fargo.

  6. I was born in the very late 1970s and I started listening to country music around 1992 or so and I knew of the “Rose Garden Song” but never heard anything else from her because radio never played anything else. I had only heard “Rose Garden” on my station’s weekly “Songs for Old People” program that they played at some time when ratings would be low. I’d sometimes listen to those programs as a teenager, though I never actually confessed that to anyone.

    I had assumed she was a “One Hit Wonder” type with Rose Garden but nothing more. I did like the song even though it was for another generation – I’d always get a good laugh when she said “I never promised you a rose garden.”

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