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R.I.P. Lynn Anderson, country singer known for “Rose Garden”

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Lynn Anderson, a country singer who briefly broke through to the mainstream in the early ’70s, died July 30 of a heart attack at a Nashville hospital. She was 67.

Born in North Dakota on September 26, 1947, and raised in California, Anderson grew up surrounded by country music; both of her parents were country songwriters, and she began performing at the age of six. As a teenager, she performed on the musical variety show Country Caravan, and was signed to the Chart label after the label chief heard her singing with Merle Haggard. Anderson’s first singles failed to make an impression, but two subsequent songs, “Ride, Ride, Ride” and “If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)”—both written by her mother—had modest chart success.

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Anderson signed a two-year TV contract as a featured singer on The Lawrence Welk Show in 1967, a deal that led to a major-label contract with Columbia Records. It was for Columbia that Anderson recorded her biggest hit, the wistful 1970 country-pop tune “Rose Garden.” Also known as “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden,” the song was No. 1 on the country charts for five weeks and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Anderson won a Grammy and a Country Music Assoication award for “Rose Garden,” and from its release in 1971 until Shania Twain broke the record with Come On Over in 1997, the song’s namesake LP was the best-selling country album of all time by a female singer.

Speaking to the Associated Press in 1987, Anderson said about the song:

It was popular because it touched on emotions. It was perfectly timed. It was out just as we came out of the Vietnam years and a lot of people were trying to recover. This song stated that you can make something out of nothing. You take it and go ahead.

Anderson would go on to have a handful of other country hits—including “Rocky Top,” “You’re My Man,” “How Can I Unlove You?,” “What A Man, My Man Is,” and “Top Of The World”—although she would never repeat the success of “Rose Garden,” which has been covered by everyone from Martina McBride to Morrissey and was featured in the films Monster’s Ball, Zodiac, and the recent Hot Pursuit.

A TV veteran, along with dozens of appearances as herself she also acted on Starsky And Hutch and in the BBC Scotland drama The Wreck On The Highway. Nominated for another Grammy for her bluegrass album The Bluegrass Sessions in 2004, Anderson had recently moved back to Nashville after 20 years in Taos, New Mexico, at the time of her death. She is survived by her father, three children, four grandchildren, and her partner, Mentor Williams.

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