November 19, 2022
By: Dwayne Page
Tribute to a local country music legend!
The City of Smithville and the Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting and ribbon cutting ceremony for John Anderson Alley, formerly known as Walnut Alley. The alley was recently renamed in honor of the country music icon, who called Smithville home for more than 40 years. At one time, John and his wife Jamie owned a downtown building attached to the lane.
The driveway is between buildings stretching from Walnut to West Main Street in downtown Smithville.
Anderson and his family were on hand for the dedication along with several fans and friends.
After attending a special event featuring John at the Grand Ole Opry, Smithville resident and business owner Tony Luna came up with the idea of naming the aisle after the country icon.
“I came up with the idea after my wife Sommer and I went to the Grand Ole Opry and they had a John Anderson night. I thought how not to do something when he’s been living here for over 40 years. I really wanted a street named after him, which is very important, so we came up with the idea of naming the driveway. I went to Mayor Josh Miller and he immediately jumped on board and the got it through the aldermen and then my wife and I commissioned the mural and it turned out to be a cool, long overdue thing,” Luna said.
“A few months ago Tony Luna contacted me and asked if we could consider changing the name of Walnut Alley to John Anderson Alley. I thought that was a great idea. brought to city council and they thought it was a great idea and they voted on the name change and here we are today I think it’s a great tribute to a very prominent citizen of the city and the County John had a great career and I think it was a good thing to do,” Mayor Miller said.
Anderson’s successful career as a singer and songwriter spanned more than four decades. Beginning in 1977 with the release of his first single, “I’ve Got a Feelin’ (Somebody’s Been Stealin’)”, Anderson scored more than 40 singles on the Billboard country music charts, including five number ones: “Wild and Blue”, “Swingin'”, “Black Sheep”, “Straight Tequila Night” and “Money in the Bank”. He has also recorded 22 studio albums on several labels. His latest album, Years, was released on April 10, 2020 on the Easy Eye Sound label and was produced by veteran Nashville producer David Ferguson and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
Anderson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on October 5, 2014.
Raised in Apopka, Florida, Anderson’s early musical influences were not country artists, but rock and roll musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. He played in a rock band until the age of 15, when he discovered the music of George Jones and Merle Haggard and turned to country music. Anderson moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1971, arriving unannounced at her sister’s house and worked odd jobs during the day—including one as a roofer at the Grand Ole Opry House—while playing clubs in the evenings.
The club appearances finally paid off in 1977 when he signed his first recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. He first hit the Billboard Country charts in 1977 with the song “I’ve Got a Feelin’ (Somebody’s Been Stealin’)”, then burst into the Country Top 40 with “The Girl at the End of the Bar ” the next year. Anderson’s decidedly outback accent and distinctive vocal timbre helped put him at the forefront of the “New Traditionalist” movement with artists like Ricky Skaggs and George Strait.
A steady stream of singles in the late 1970s and early 1980s continued to build Anderson’s name in the country genre. The song “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)” from the 1981 album John Anderson 2 earned Anderson a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
The release of Anderson’s fourth album, Wild & Blue, in 1982 led to his breakthrough into mainstream country when the single “Swingin'” hit the airwaves early the following year. Co-written with longtime songwriting partner Lionel Delmore, the song burst onto the country charts and hit number one in March, while also moving onto the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 43. single became the best-selling record in Warner Bros. history. Records. In the wake of “Swingin'”, Anderson received five Country Music Association Award nominations for the year. It won the Horizon Award and the song was named Single of the Year; it also received nominations for Song of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Album of the Year.
After leaving Warner Bros., Anderson signed with MCA Records and released two albums under that label, followed by one with Capitol Records in 1990. The following year Anderson joined BNA Records and, together with legendary producer country James Stroud, released the album Seminole Wind. Propelled by the title single, which rose to number two, and the number one single “Straight Tequila Night”, the album proved a resurgence for Anderson’s career. The album was certified twice platinum, the most of any Anderson album, and it was nominated for three CMA awards – Male Vocalist, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year.
The success of Seminole Wind breathed new life into Anderson’s career, and he released a number of albums that charted well, producing several more singles that pushed to the top levels of the country charts. The 1993 album Solid Ground produced a number one single, “Money in the Bank”, which turned out to be the most recent chart topper of Anderson’s career. He recorded for BNA until 1996 before leaving the label. In 1993 Anderson received the Academy of Country Music Career Achievement award.
During her career, Anderson has collaborated with a number of different artists. He worked with Big & Rich’s John Rich on his 2007 album Easy Money and co-wrote Rich’s 2009 single “Shuttin’ Detroit Down”.
Anderson has lived in Smithville, Tennessee, his home for more than 40 years with his wife and two daughters.