Bill Anderson

Genre country, bill anderson, classic country, 60s, oldies

James William (Bill) Anderson III (born November 1, 1937 in Columbia, South Carolina) is an American country music singer and songwriter, who is also a two-time game show host, most notably for his role as the host of Fandango on TNN.

One of the most successful songwriters in country music history, Bill Anderson was also a hugely popular singer in his own right, earning the nickname "Whispering Bill" for his gentle, airy vocal style and occasional spoken narrations.
Biography & career

Rise to fame
Although Bill was born in Columbia, South Carolina, he was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He studied journalism at the University of Georgia, with an eye toward sports writing, and worked his way through school as a radio DJ, during which time he first tried his hand at songwriting and singing. He attended the University of Georgia and earned a degree in journalism from the university's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Eventually, he landed a job at the Atlanta Constitution.

His composition "City Lights," written when he was just 19 years old, while working in Commerce, Georgia at WJJC Radio 1270 AM, was recorded by Ray Price in 1958 and went all the way to the top of the country charts. Anderson took full advantage of his big break, moving to Nashville and landing a record contract of his own with Decca.

1959 – 1978: Career as a Country music singer
Before signing to Decca, Anderson recorded for the small TNT label between 1957 and 1959, where he released three singles that failed to chart the Country charts at the time, including a version of "City Lights". After signing with Decca in 1959, he then left TNT.

His first chart hit came with 1959's "That's What It's Like to Be Lonesome," and he had his first Top Ten entry with 1960's "Tip of My Fingers." Early hits like "Po' Folks" (1961), "Mama Sang a Song" (his first number one, from 1962), and "8 X 10" (number two, 1963) still remain among his best-known. Anderson recorded his biggest hit and signature song, the partly spoken ballad "Still," in 1963, and it not only topped the country charts, but crossed over to the pop Top Ten as well. "Still" remains Anderson's biggest hit. The song climbed to No. 8 on the Pop charts, as well as reaching No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary charts. The song made Anderson briefly a star in both Country and Pop music.

Anderson remained quite successful throughout the 60s, scoring a number of No. 1s and Top 10s during that period of time.

Anderson remained a regular visitor to the country Top Ten through the late '70s, and reached the Top Five a total of 19 times through 1978. Among the highlights were the number ones "I Get the Fever" (1966), "For Loving You" (a 1967 duet with regular partner Jan Howard), "My Life (Throw It Away if I Want To)" (1969), "World of Make Believe" (1974), and "Sometimes" (1976).

By that point, Anderson was working often with a new duet partner, Mary Lou Turner.

His final Top Ten country hit came with 1978's disco-tinged "I Can't Wait Any Longer," and by 1982, Anderson's inability to score a follow-up hit led him away from both songwriting and recording.

Besides his "whisper" of a singing voice, he was also known for his whispering recitations during songs, such as in "Mama Sang A Song" and "Still." In songs such as "Double S," he whispered through the whole single, telling about his fictitious one night stand with a woman who wouldn't give her name, but mysteriously called herself "Double S."

Bill has been voted and nominated Songwriter Of The Year six times, Male Vocalist Of The Year, half of the Duet Of The Year with both Jan Howard and Mary Lou Turner, has hosted and starred in the Country Music Television Series Of The Year, seen his band voted Band Of The Year, and in 1975 was voted membership in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Ten years later, the State of Georgia honored him by choosing him as only the 7th living performer inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In 1993, he was made a member of the Georgia Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. In 1994, South Carolina inducted him into their Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. And in 2001, he received the ultimate honor, membership in Nashville’s prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame.

Songwriting career
Bill Anderson has written songs for many Country music singers, since first writing for Ray Price, among others in the late 1950s. Songwrting was the first career Anderson established before entering Country music as a singer. Anderson wrote many of Country singer, Connie Smith's biggest hits in the 1960s, including her best-known song, "Once a Day", which topped off at No. 1 in 1964 and spent 8 weeks at the No. 1 spot, the longest by any female Country music singer. He was also wrote Smith's "Cincinnati, Ohio" in 1967, among others.

In 1995, Billboard magazine named four Bill Anderson compositions – “City Lights,” “Once A Day,” “Still,” and “Mama Sang A Song” – among the Top 20 Country Songs of the past 35-years. No other songwriter had as many songs listed.

Anderson ended the 1990s with a pair of #1 hits, “Wish You Were Here,” by Mark Wills and the Grammy nominated “Two Teardrops” by Steve Wariner. His song, “Too Country,” recorded by Brad Paisley along with Anderson, Buck Owens and George Jones, won CMA Vocal Event Of The Year honors for 2001. The following year saw Kenny Chesney soar with his version of the Anderson-Dean Dillon masterpiece, “A Lot Of Things Different.”

Acting and game show career
Bill Anderson was the first country artist to host a network game show, starring on ABC-TV's, The Better Sex. He also appeared for three years on ABC's Daytime soap opera, One Life To Live.

For six years he hosted an interview show called Opry Backstage, and found time to be co-producer of another TNN Show called, You Can Be A Star. In addition, Bill has appeared frequently as a guest star on television’s top variety and game shows, including The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Match Game, Family Feud, Password Plus (with substitute game show host, Bill Cullen), Hee Haw and others. He currently hosts Bill Anderson Visits With The Legends on XM satellite radio.

He has also served as a television game show host, emceeing Fandango, which aired on The Nashville Network for seven consecutive seasons, in addition to co-hosting The Better Sex with Sarah Purcell. He also co-produced the The Nashville Network show, You Can Be a Star!, which was hosted by fellow country singer Jim Ed Brown. Anderson also occasionally appeared on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. He was also a frequent guest on Match Game in the '70s.

1990 – present: Career today
Bill Anderson’s autobiography, “Whisperin’ Bill,” was published by Longstreet Press in 1989 and relates the fascinating details of his life and lengthy career in show business. The book, which Bill personally wrote over a period of three years, made bestseller lists all across the south. Bill’s second book, a humorous look at the music business titled, “I Hope You’re Living As High On The Hog As The Pig You Turned Out To Be,” was published in 1993 and is currently in it’s fourth printing.

He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1961 and performs there regularly. In 2000, his latest album, A Lot Of Things Different, received rave reviews. Each song on the album was written, or co-written, by Anderson. His 1998 release, Fine Wine, was produced by Steve Wariner and released on Warner Brothers' Reprise/Nashville label. Bill Anderson's Greatest Hits Volume I & II have been released on Varese-Sarabande Records along with The Best Of Bill Anderson on Curb.

On February 15, 1965, Bill appeared–along with two “imposters”–on the game show, To Tell The Truth, challenging the panel to determine “the real Bill Anderson.” According to the affidavit read at the beginning of his segment, Bill was at the time “generally considered to be the top composer of country music in the nation.” Only two of the four panelists successfully identified Bill. At the end of the segment, he sang one of his own compositions, “Poor Folks.” (During questioning, Bill—the real Bill—got a big laugh when Kitty Carlisle asked, “Why are you wearing this costume?” After looking down at his brightly decorated suit–featuring sequined snowflakes–Bill deadpanned, “Well, it’s all I had.”)

In 2004 Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss scored a hit with Bill and Jon Randall's, "Whiskey Lullaby." In November 2002, BMI named Bill its first country songwriting Icon, placing him alongside R&B legends Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and James Brown as the only recipients of that award. His compositions can be heard on recent or forthcoming releases by Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan, John Michael Montgomery, Sara Evans, Tracy Byrd, and others.

July 15, 2006 marked Anderson's 45th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Anderson also hosts a show on XM radio entitled "Bill Anderson visits with the Legends" where he interviews various country music legends.

The video for the song "Whiskey Lullaby" won Anderson Video of the Year and Vocal Collaboration of the Year in 2004. "Give It Away," co-written by Anderson and performed by George Strait, won the Academy of Country Music Song of the Year for 2006. In November 2007, "Give It Away" won the Country Music Association Song of the Year, an award that goes to the songwriters, Bill Anderson being a co-writer.


Year Single Peak positions Album
U.S. Country U.S. Hot 100
1958 "That's What It's Like to Be Lonesome" 12 - -
1960 "The Tip of My Fingers"" 7 - Country Heart Songs
1960 "Walk Out Backwards" 9 - Country Heart Songs
1961 "Po' Folks" 9 - Country Heart Songs
1962 "Mama Sang a Song" 1 89 Country Heart Songs
1962 "Get a Little Dirt on Your Hands" 14 - Still
1963 "Still"A 1 8 Still
1963 "Eight by Ten" 2 53 Bill Anderson Sings
1963 "Five Little Fingers/Easy Come, Easy Go" 5/14 - Bill Anderson Sings
1964 "Three A.M." 8 - Showcase
1965 "Certain" 12 - Showcase
1966 "Bright Lights and Country Music" 11 - Bright Lights and Country Music
1966 "I Love You Drops/Golden Guitar" 4/11 - Bright Lights and Country Music/I Love You Drops
1966 "I Know You're Married (But I Love You Still)" (w/ Jan Howard) 29 - -
1966 "I Get the Fever" 1 - I Love You Drops
1967 "Get While the Gettin's Good" 5 - Get While the Gettin's Good
1967 "No One's Gonna Hurt You Anymore" 10 - Wild Weekend
1967 "For Loving You" (w/ Jan Howard) 1 - For Loving You
1968 "Wild Weekend" 2 - Wild Weekend
1968 "Happy State of Mind" 2 - Happy State of Mind
1969 "My Life (Throw It Away If I Want To)" 1 - My Life/But You Know I Love You
1969 "But You Know I Love You" 2 - My Life/But You Know I Love You
1969 "If It's All the Same to You" (w/ Jan Howard) 2 - If It's All the Same to You
1970 "Love Is a Sometimes Thing" 5 - Love Is a Sometimes Thing
1970 "Where Have All Our Heroes Gone" 6 93 Where Have All Our Heroes Gone
1970 "Someday We'll Be Together" (w/ Jan Howard) 4 - Bill and Jan or Jan and Bill
1971 "Dis-Satisfied" (w/ Jan Howard) 4 - Bill and Jan or Jan and Bill
1971 "Always Remember" 6 - Always Remember
1971 "Quits" 3 - Greatest Hits Volume 2
1972 "All the Lonely Women in the World" 5 - All the Lonely Women in the World
1972 "Don't She Look Good" 2 - Don't She Look Good
1973 "If You Can Live With It (I Can Live Without It)" 2 - Bill
1973 "Corner of My Life" 2 - Bill
1974 "World of Make Believe" 1 - Bill
1974 "Can I Come Home to You" 24 - Whispering Bill Anderson
1974 "Every Time I Turn the Radio On" 7 - Every Time I Turn the Radio On/Talk to Me Ohio
1975 "I Still Feel the Same About You" 14 - Every Time I Turn the Radio On/Talk to Me Ohio
1975 "Country D.J." 36 = Every Time I Turn the Radio On/Talk to Me Ohio
1976 "Sometimes" (w/ Mary Lou Turner) 1 - Sometimes
1976 "That's What Made Me Love You" (w/ Mary Lou Turner) 7 - Sometimes
1976 "Peanuts and Diamonds" 10 - Peanuts and Diamonds and Other Jewels
1977 "Liars One, Believers Zero" 6 - Peanuts and Diamonds and Other Jewels
1977 "Head to Toe" 7 - Scorpio
1977 "Still the One" 11 - Scorpio
1977 "Where Are You Going, Billy Boy" (w/ Mary Lou Turner) 18 - Billy Boy and Mary Lou
1978 "I'm Way Ahead of You" (w/ Mary Lou Turner) 25 - Billy Boy and Mary Lou
1978 "I Can't Wait Any Longer" 4 80 Love and Other Sad Stories
1978 "Double S" 30 - Ladies Choice
1979 "This Is A Love Song" 20 - Ladies Choice
1979 "The Dream Never Dies" 40 - (Single Only)
1980 "Make Mine Night Time" 35 - Nashville Mirrors
1982 "Southern Fried" 42 - Southern Fried
1983 "Thank You Darling" 70 - Southern Fried
1985 "Wino the Clown" 58 - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
1985 "When You Leave That Way You Can Never Go Back" 75 - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
1991 "The Deck of Cards" 60 - The Best of Bill Anderson


A "Still" also peaked at No. 3 on the US Adult Contemporary charts in 1963.

Year Album Chart Positions
U.S. Country Albums
1962 Country Heart Songs 42
1963 StillA 10
1964 Bill Anderson Sings 7
1964 Showcase -
1965 From This Pen 7
1965 Bright Lights and Country Music 6
1966 I Love You Drops 1
1967 Get It While the Gettin's Good 8
1967 Greatest Hits Volume 1 6
1967 I Can't Do Nothing Alone 23
1968 Country Style -
1968 For Loving You (duet album w/ Jan Howard) 6
1968 Wild Weekend 10
1968 Happy State of Mind 24
1969 Story 43
1969 My Life/But You Know I Love You 4
1969 Christmas -
1970 If It's All the Same to You (duet album w/ Jan Howard) 25
1970 Love Is a Sometimes Thing 10
1970 Where Have All Our Heroes Gone 27
1971 Always Remeber 13
1971 Greatest Hits Volume 2 18
1972 Bill and Jan or Jan and Bill (duet album w/ Jan Howard) 9
1972 Singing His Praise (w/ Jan Howard) -
1972 Just Plain Bill -
1972 For All the Lonely Women In the World 14
1972 Don't She Look Good 10
1973 Bill 15
1974 Whispering 17
1975 Live From London -
1975 Turn the Radio On/Talk to Me Ohio 22
1976 Sometimes (duet album w/ Mary Lou Turner) 6
1976 Peanuts and Diamonds and Other Jewels 12
1977 Scorpio 21
1977 Billy Boy and Mary Lou (duet album w/ Mary Lou Turner) 39
1978 Love and Other Sad Stories 37
1979 Lady's Choice 44
1980 Nashville Mirrors -
1983 Southern Fried -
1984 Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow -
1991 The Best of Bill Anderson -
1991 Country Music Heaven -
1994 Country -
1995 I Wonder If God Likes Country Music -
1998 Fine Wines -
2001 Lot of Things Different -
2002 No Place Like Christmas -
2007 Whisperin Bluegrass -


The album "Still" also peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in 1963.

^ Bill Anderson at All Music Guide
^ Bill Anderson biography at All Music
^ Bill Anderson at All Music Guide
^ Bill Anderson biography at All Music Guide
^ Bill Anderson biography at All Music Guide
^ Bill Anderson biography at All Music Guide
^ Bill Anderson at his Official Website
^ Bill Anderson biography at his official site
^ Bill Anderson biography at his official site
^ Bill Anderson biography at his official website
^ Bill Anderson biography at his official website (Bill
^ Bill Anderson at His Official Website
^ Bill Anderson at
^ Bill Anderson biography at
Georgia Magazine, September 2006, Vol. 85, No. 4, p.55
Trott, Walt (1998). "Bill Anderson". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 12-13.
Wolff, Kurt. Country Music: The Rough Guide.
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Top Tracks

For Loving You 1

For Loving You

Nearer My God To Thee 2

Nearer My God To Thee

Swing Low Sweet Chariot 3

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Beyond The Sunset 4

Beyond The Sunset

The Lord's Prayer 5

The Lord's Prayer

Precious Memories 6

Precious Memories

Peace In The Valley 7

Peace In The Valley

The Old Country Church 8

The Old Country Church

The Old Rugged Cross 9

The Old Rugged Cross

Where No One Stands Alone 10

Where No One Stands Alone

Top Albums

Classic Country: Great Duets
Classic Country: Great Duets
Singing His Praise
Singing His Praise