Famed songwriter and singer Liz Anderson died Monday evening of complications from heart and lung disease after a brief hospitalization, her family announced. The singer, who is the mother of Lynn Anderson and a key player in the success of Merle Haggard and others, was admitted to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville on Oct. 28. She was 81.
As a co-founder of the Nashville Songwriters Association International alongside husband Casey, Anderson was a groundbreaking songwriter at a time when women writers were not accepted in Nashville. She wrote the breakthrough Merle Haggard smash "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers." He named his band The Strangers after this Top 10 single. She also penned his first number one hit "The Fugitive."
Merle Haggard, "The Fugitive"
Liz Anderson, "Husband Hunting"
Daughter Lynn -- a former CMA Female Vocalist of the Year -- spoke about her mom's influence.
"After concerts, people would come to our house and have a late dinner or early breakfast," she recalls. "People like Merle and Buck Owens would come to the house after hours and play music in the living room. Mother would whip up some bacon and eggs and feed everybody. So, I literally grew up from age ten with people like them, Freddie Hart, Tommy Collins, and Wynn Stewart literally in the living room. I never thought anything about it. Mother would go fix pancakes and say to me 'Teach Merle this song,' because I knew all Mom and Dad's songs word for word. So, there I'd be at two in the morning, singing 'From Now On, All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers,' teaching him the melody and all that."
The two-time Grammy nominee also penned numerous hits for Charley Pride, Brenda Lee, Tammy Wynette, Ernest Tubb, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Kitty Wells, Conway Twitty, Del Reeves, her Grammy-winning daughter, and many others.
Chet Atkins signed Anderson to RCA where she had string of hits produced by Felton Jarvis, who also produced label mate Elvis Presley. They included "Husband Hunting," "Go Now, Pay Later," and "The Game of Triangles," a trio with Bobby Bare and Norma Jean. Liz and Lynn also had a Top 25 hit with "Mother May I" in 1968 and appeared on the Mother's Day edition of the Lawrence Welk Show.
Anderson is survived by her loving, co-writing husband of 65 years (Casey), daughter Lynn, three grandchildren (Lisa Lynn Sutton, Gray Stream and Melissa Hempel) and two great-grandchildren (Grace Stream and Geddings Hempel).
Funeral arrangements are set for 11:30 AM on Saturday, Nov. 5th at Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home in Nashville. Flowers are welcome, but her family asked that donations may be directed to the NSAI Legislative fund.