November 19, 2022
By: Dwayne Page
Honoring a hometown Country Music Legend!
The City of Smithville and Chamber of Commerce held a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting Saturday morning for the John Anderson Alley, formerly known as Walnut Alley. The alley was recently renamed in honor of the Country Music Icon, who has made Smithville his home for more than 40 years. At one time John and his wife Jamie owned a downtown building attached to the alley.
The alley is between buildings extending from Walnut to West Main Street downtown Smithville.
Anderson and his family were on hand for the dedication along with several fans and friends.
“Thank you, folks for coming out here. That means the world to me,” said Anderson.
“I want to express my gratitude and thanks to Tony (Luna) and the Mayor (Josh Miller) and all the city council members. It is indeed very much an honor to have my likeness (mural) in the middle of downtown Smithville, the place that I call home and dearly love,” he said.
“I moved up here to Smithville and DeKalb County about 44 years ago. I decided to move here after traveling around and looking for a few different places in middle Tennessee to live. I always loved the all-American atmosphere that is here. I love this part of the country. It is indeed one of the most beautiful parts of the country in the United States. No matter where I have always been on the road in some of the most exotic and beautiful places, after just a short time I find myself wanting to come home to Jamie and my family right here in DeKalb County and Smithville Tennessee. Its been a wonderful place for me to write the music that I write. In fact, that is one of the reasons I settled here too. I decided many years ago to be a country music singer and songwriter and while living in Nashville trying to make it I kept thinking if I ever get a deal good enough to get out of here I’m going somewhere where I can indeed live a country life and be a country music songwriter and singer. Thanks to the treatment of you folks and just being in this environment, it has worked out really well for me. I am very appreciative. This has been a wonderful place to raise a family and I would wish the same for each and every one of you. Thank you all so much”, said Anderson.
After attending a special event featuring John at the Grand Ole Opry, Smithville resident and business owner Tony Luna had the idea to name the alley 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 could we not do something when he has lived here over 40 years. I really wanted a street named after him which is a big deal so we got the idea of naming the alley. I went to Mayor Josh Miller and he immediately jumped on board and got it passed by the Aldermen and then my wife and I commissioned the mural and it just turned out to be a cool thing and its long overdue,” said Luna
“A few months ago Tony Luna contacted me and asked if we could consider changing the name from Walnut Alley to John Anderson Alley. I thought it was a great idea. I took it to the city council and they thought it was a great idea and they voted on the name change and here we are today. I think its great tribute to a very prominent citizen of the city and county. John has had a great career and I think this was a good thing to do,” said Mayor Miller.
Anderson’s successful singing and songwriting career has lasted more than four decades. Starting in 1977 with the release of his first single, “I’ve Got a Feelin’ (Somebody’s Been Stealin’)”, Anderson has charted 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 Nashville veteran producer David Ferguson and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
Anderson was inducted to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame on October 5, 2014.
Raised in Apopka, Florida, Anderson’s first 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 his sister’s home, and took on odd jobs during the day – including one as a roofer at the Grand Ole Opry House – while playing in clubs during 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 chart in 1977 with the song “I’ve Got a Feelin’ (Somebody’s Been Stealin’)”, then broke into the country Top 40 with “The Girl at the End of the Bar” the next year. Anderson’s decidedly backwoods accent and distinctive vocal timbre helped land him in the forefront of the “New Traditionalist” movement with artists like Ricky Skaggs and George Strait.
A steady stream of singles through 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 netted 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 to mainstream country when the single “Swingin'” hit the airwaves early the next year. Co-written with long-time writing partner, Lionel Delmore, the song broke into the country charts and reached Number One by March, while at the same time crossing over to the Billboard Hot 100, reaching a peak of Number 43. The single became the biggest selling record in the history of Warner Bros. Records. In the wake of “Swingin'”, Anderson received five nominations for Country Music Association awards for the year. He was the winner of the Horizon Award, and the song was named Single of the Year; he 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, working with legendary country producer James Stroud, released the album Seminole Wind. Powered 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 has been certified two times platinum, the highest of any of Anderson’s albums, and he was nominated for three CMA Awards – Male Vocalist, Song of the Year and Album of the Year.
The success of Seminole Wind brought a fresh life to Anderson’s career, and he released a number of albums that charted well, producing several more singles that pushed to the upper 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 through 1996 before leaving the label. In 1993, Anderson was awarded the Academy of Country Music Career Achievement award.
Over his career, Anderson has collaborated with a number of different artists. He has worked with John Rich of Big & Rich on his 2007 album Easy Money, and co-wrote Rich’s 2009 single “Shuttin’ Detroit Down”
Anderson lives in Smithville, Tennessee, his home for more than 40 years with his wife and two daughters.