One Magical Night In Aberdeen South Dakota
Bill Anderson is a Country Music Legend. Bill Anderson is a Songwriting Legend. Bill Anderson is a Country Music Hall of Fame member. But before I talk about his great career, I'd like to share something of a more personal nature.
It was 1979 or 1980. I was a 24 year old kid working in country radio at KKAA in Aberdeen South Dakota. Bill Anderson was already one of the biggest star's in country music, had already had a phenomenal career, had written classics and sung classics and had played before millions of people all over the world. In other words, he was right there with the best of the best, atop the country music world.
And he was coming to the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen, South Dakota, USA. So I had my people (oh, yeah, well...that was just me) contact his people and was able to set up a time to do an interview. It would be the afternoon of the concert that night and I could get together with him at the Holiday Inn early afternoon.
Well, this 24 year old kid was plenty nervous! At that point I hadn't talked to a whole lot of 'celebrities' and here I was, walking into the Holiday Inn and going to interview one of country music's biggest star's.....gulp!
I was walking to the desk when I saw him....him!...sitting in a chair by the indoor swimming pool. Holy smokes, what do I do?? Just walk up and introduce myself? Yep, I guess that would work....so that's what I did, voice maybe shaking just a bit.
As it turned out, this country music mega-star who had traveled the world and was now in Aberdeen South Dakota by a swimming pool was one of the nicest men I had ever met. No, I don't mean of the 'celebrities', I mean of anyone I had every met.
He took the time to answer every question I had (and I'll bet some were real wing-dingers), told some great stories and gave me some great tape (yes, it was most certainly back in the cassette tape days).
And that was it. Except it wasn't.
That night I was in the Grandstand at the fairgrounds, somewhere in the middle of a sold out crowd. The show was great as Bill sang hit after hit after hit and told great behind-the-scene stories of the many hits he had written. And then, right smack dab in the middle of the show, he stopped and pointed into the crowd and said something I'll never forget.
"Hey folks, my friend Randy McDaniel is sitting up there. Stand up, Randy! You folks all know him from KK Double A radio here in town...take a bow Randy".
Here's the point: Bill Anderson didn't have to do that. And he didn't have to take the time to sit with a local radio guy in a small northeast South Dakota town when he could have just been relaxing. But you know what? He did. And that 24 year old kid is a bald 65 year old dog now....and he still remembers. All these years, these decades later he still remembers.
And with a warm heart.
What Bill did then was what Country Music was all about in the 'old days'.
Oh yeah, and as for how many time's did Bill sit atop the Country Music charts in his illustrious career?
Well, he had over 30 Top ten hits, including five solo #1's and 2 duet #1's, one each with Jan Howard and Mary Lou Turner. He's one of the premier songwriters in music history. And he's never stopped...did you know he co-wrote two of my favorite songs of the past 20 years or so, Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss 'Whiskey Lullaby' and the George Strait chart-topper 'Give It Away'?
And even with all that, even with one of the most legendary careers in country music history, what I remember most is sitting in a grandstand at a fairground in South Dakota over 40 years ago. There's something magical about that and hidden in it is a lesson to be learned.
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