“Whisperin’ Bill” Anderson is one of Nashville’s most revered figures. A mega successful singer-songwriter, Anderson continues to pursue his country music career today.
Image courtesy Bill Anderson
Bill Anderson was elected to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. It was a big honor for the talented singer-songwriter, whose hits include “Eight by Ten” (1963), “Get While the Gettin’s Good” (1967) and “Corner of My Life” (1973). But rather than rest on his laurels, Anderson prefers to stay busy, performing at the Grand Ole Opry and writing songs for such current artists as Sugarland, Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss.
Born in South Carolina
James William Anderson III was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on November 1, 1937. Raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Anderson worked his way through the University of Georgia as a disc jockey, eventually earning a journalism degree in 1959.
Bill Anderson’s City Lights
At age 19 Bill Anderson wrote “City Lights,” a song recorded by Ray Price in 1958 that went all the way to number one on the country music charts. From 1957 to 1959 Anderson recorded as well, plying his trade for the small, San-Antonio-based TNT label.
In 1959, Anderson signed with Decca Records. Now a resident of Nashville, Anderson scored his first Top Ten hit in 1960 with “Tip of My Fingers,” which peaked at #7.
Mama Sang a Song
Bill Anderson – later dubbed “Whisperin’ Bill” in deference to his light singing voice and occasional narrations – garnered his first number one hit in 1962 with “Mama Sang a Song.” One year later, Anderson struck again, topping the country music charts with “Still.”
More Bill Anderson Hits
Bill Anderson, who joined the storied Grand Ole Opry in 1961, continued his winning ways throughout the 1960s. Among his many hits were “Po’ Folks” (1961, #9), “I Get the Fever” (1966, #1), “For Loving You” with Jan Howard (1967, #1) and “But You Know I Love You” (1969, #2).
Anderson scored two number one hits in the 1970s: “World of Make Believe” (1974) and “Sometimes” with Mary Lou Turner (1976). His most successful single of the 1980s was “Make Mine Night Time” (1980), off his Nashville Mirrors album.
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
In addition to his own successful recording career, Bill Anderson has also penned a number of hits for other country artists. Among his best-known entries: “I Missed Me” (Jim Reeves, 1960), “Happy Birthday to Me” (Hank Locklin, 1961), “Once a Day” (Connie Smith, 1964) and “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” (Cal Smith, 1975).
From 1959 to 1994, Anderson won an incredible 54 BMI songwriting awards. In 1975, Anderson was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, something which he considers his greatest honor in country music.
Bill Anderson: Actor, Television Host, Author
Bill Anderson has appeared in several films, including Money in My Pocket (1962) and The Gold Guitar (1966). For three years, he appeared regularly on the television soap opera One Life to Live.
Anderson has hosted his own syndicated television series, The Bill Anderson Show (1965-74), as well as two game shows, The Better Sex with Sarah Purcell (1977-78) and Fandango (1983-89).
Anderson’s autobiography, Whisperin’ Bill, which he penned himself over a period of three years, was published by Longstreet Press in 1989.
Bill Anderson Still at Grand Ole Opry
Bill Anderson continues to perform at the Grand Ole Opry and other music venues. He has recently written songs for such artists as Lorrie Morgan, George Strait, Tracy Byrd, Sara Evans and Sugarland.
Anderson currently hosts Bill Anderson Visits With The Legends on XM satellite radio. His latest album is Whisperin’ Bluegrass (2007), with friends Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, Jon Randall and Jan Howard.
“Always remember your whole life through…” Anderson sang in 1971. Rest assured, no one will be forgetting “Whisperin’ Bill” anytime soon.