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John Anderson

John Anderson

Neo-honky tonker John Anderson was born in Apopka, Florida, in 1955 and grew up listening to rock & roll, until he discovered country music at age 15 through Merle Haggard. He moved to Nashville in the early '70s, showing up at his sister's house with no warning, and worked a variety of odd jobs (including one as a roofer for the Grand Ole Opry) while playing clubs at night. Eventually, all the hard work paid off with a contract for Warner Bros., and Anderson released his first single in 1978. His self-titled debut album appeared in 1980 and helped signal the rise of the new traditionalist movement, drawing critical praise as well. Soon the hits started to pile up: "1959" and "Chicken Truck" became his first country Top Tens in 1981, and "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)" went Top Five later that year. 1982's "Wild and Blue" was Anderson's first chart-topper, and he duplicated that feat twice in 1983 with "Black Sheep" and the million-selling "Swingin'," the latter of which was the biggest-selling country single in Warner Bros. history. Anderson returned to the Top Ten several times over the next few years, most notably with 1984's "She Sure Got Away with My Heart," but by 1987 his commercial momentum had stalled, and he and Warner parted ways.

Anderson continued to record steadily and mounted a major comeback in the early '90s, starting with 1992's Seminole Wind. Its title track went to number two, and the follow-up, "Straight Tequila Night," went all the way to number one; "When It Comes to You" also made the Top Five. Anderson scored another number one in 1993 with "Money in the Bank" and hit the Top Five three times over 1994-1995 with "I Wish I Could Have Been There," "I've Got It Made," and "Bend Until It Breaks." Though he hasn't been back since, Anderson's albums and singles continue to make the lower reaches of the country charts, evidence of a still-solid fan base. What was termed a comeback album of sorts, Easy Money, produced by John Rich of Big & Rich fame, appeared in 2007. Bigger Hands followed in 2009, and he released Goldmine in 2015.

Anderson suffered an undisclosed health problem in the late 2010s, an experience he chronicled on 2020's Years. The album was written in collaboration with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys; Auerbach also produced Years and released it on his Easy Eye Sound label. ~ Steve Huey

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