THOUGH ‘Rose Garden’ (Columbia, 1970), written by Joe South, was Anderson’s only huge international hit, it remains one of the best examples of the countrypolitan trend of the 70s that saw numerous country acts sweetening their recordings in search of crossover success in the pop charts. What made her success all the more ironic was that she was the daughter of the traditionally orientated songwriter Liz Anderson (b. 13 March 1930, Pine Creek, Minnesota), who with such fine songs as ‘My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers’ and ‘I’m a Lonesome Fugitive’ gave Merle Haggard the significant early hits that established his initial rebellious image.
Raised in California, Anderson won a regular place on Lawrence Welk’s weekly television show (1966–8). Signed by Chart Records, she had a country hit with her first release, her mother’s composition ‘Ride, Ride, Ride’ (1966). In 1968 she moved to Nashville and married Columbia producer and songwriter R. Glenn Sutton, who became her producer when she joined the company in 1970. It was he who produced ‘Rose Garden’, its smooth sound perfectly suiting Anderson’s clear, pop phrasing. A string of hits followed, including ‘How Can I Unlove You?’ (1971), ‘Sing About Love’ (1974) and ‘Last Love of My Life’ (1978). Her later recordings, including ‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues’ (1980) and the album Outlaw is Just a State of Mind (1980), saw Anderson, who had moved back to California, singing in an even poppier style but with little success. What She Does Best (Mercury, 1989) included a version of the Drifters’ ‘Under the Boardwalk’.
In the 90s she recorded rarely. The 1992 retrospective, Greatest Hits, drew together her best moments from the three previous decades. Latest and Greatest (Intersound, 1998) was a lacklustre outing.
© Phil Hardy, Dave Laing, The Faber Companion to 20th-Century Popular Music, 2001