Ten facts about "Whisperin' Bill" Anderson on his 75th birthday

Photo by Dennis Carney
Born on this day in 1937, country singer-songwriter Bill Anderson unexpectedly became a Nashville success when he was just 19. He was studying journalism at the University of Georgia, planning to become a sportswriter, when while working for a local radio station he wrote a tune called "City Lights." Country legend Ray Price picked up the demo and in 1958, made it a hit.

Within two years, Anderson himself hit the Top Ten with a recording of "The Tip of My Fingers." In the next year he joined the Opry, and in the next, he earned his first Number One single, a recitation song called "Mama Sang a Song." But it would be a later song that would earn him the kinda-creepy nickname, "Whisperin' Bill," a moniker a comedian teasingly gave him thanks to his hushed vocal delivery on songs like "Golden Guitar."

Now, 75 years later, we look back at the man's career, which has ne'er been close to quiet.

Shhhhhh Bill don't wake the children... Now before you get too creeped out, consider these other totally cool reasons to become acquainted with "Whisperin' Bill" Anderson. Totally cool, so long as you don't count #2, his Country's Family Reunion series, noting that anytime you catch it on TV, you're basically seeing a bunch of now-dead country stars, post-plastic surgery, waxing philosophic about the good ol' days. Read on:

10. Connie Smith!!!
Let's lead off with Connie Smith, because everyone loves Connie Smith, and because Anderson wrote several of her greatest hits: "Once a Day," "Cincinatti, Ohio," "Nobody But a Fool," "Then and Only Then," and "Tiny Blue Transistor Radio." Her 1967 album, Connie Smith Sings Bill Anderson spawned her Number Four song "Cincinatti, Ohio," while the rest appeared on other records.

9. Grand Ole Opry
Every country singer worth his or her salt is a member of the Opry (though the disbarred Hank Williams may beg to differ); Anderson has been a member since 1961, and continues to appear on its stage on a regular basis. For a time, he also hosted an interview show called Opry Backstage.

8. Bill's songwriting prowess
In 1995, Billboard magazine named four of Anderson's compositions among the top twenty country songs of the previous 35 years: "City Lights," "Once a Day," "Still," and "Mama Sang a Song". In 2002, BMI named him its first country Songwriting Icon, placing him in the company of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and James Brown. Additionally, Anderson has been voted Songwriter of the Year six times. In 1975, he was inducted to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2001, he joined the Country Music Hall of Fame. While his whisper-voice takes a little getting used to, he's also made it big as a vocalist, scoring some thirteen Top Ten albums and thirty-plus singles.

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