I never knew I had so many friends.
And I’ve never felt so loved in all my life.
I wish I had the words to adequately thank you for all your e-mails, Facebook posts, phone calls, text messages, letters, and sympathy cards letting me know that you were feeling my pain when my sweetheart, Vickie, passed away on January 16th. You said you were concerned, you were thinking of me, and most importantly of all, you were keeping me in your prayers.
It has been one of the toughest things I have ever had to go through, but with your continued support and God’s help, I’ll make it. And I’ll come out on the other side a stronger man. Her footprints of love, joy, compassion, courage, and faith have left quite a trail, but one that, hopefully, will continue on through the lives of those of us who knew and loved her.
It’s been hard to think about moving forward with my career in the midst of my loss, but I know that’s what she would have wanted. I had to cancel some concert dates and the annual Country’s Family Reunion cruise, but we’ll make those up as soon as we can. And meantime, some interesting things are about to happen.
Jamey Johnson, who sang beautifully at Vickie’s service, and I got our schedules in sync early last month long enough to film a video on our duet, “Everybody Wants To Be 21.” It will be released shortly, and I hope you’ll like it. It’s colorful if nothing else! It will be available for viewing on my website at www.billanderson.com and at all the usual places you visit for music on the internet.
That song, of course, is from our current “Anderson” CD…which is just about to be released on vinyl!! Lots of people tell us they love the sound of the old vinyl records, so we’re giving you a new one that I hope you will want to add to your collection. Details on ordering your copy are elsewhere in the newsletter…or, as always, you can find out more on our website.
Speaking of Jamey Johnson, remember the song he and I did together on one of his albums called, “The Guitar Song?” Well, a couple of the greats from bluegrass music have taken that song and given it a special new treatment that I think you’ll enjoy. Joe Mullins and Del McCoury have just released it, and as you might expect, a banjo has now entered the conversation. Check it out. It’s being played on Bluegrass Junction radio (Sirius/XM) and it’s available through all the regular bluegrass and folk music outlets.
Performance wise, we’ll be going back to the Opry this coming Friday February 8th, and will also appear there on the 9th, 22nd, 23rd, and 26th of this month. Our only road date will be Feb. 28th in nearby Crossville, Tennessee.
On the personal front, I want to publicly thank all three of my children and all eight of my grandchildren for being here to help prop me up as I dealt with Vickie’s passing. They all went to see her and told her they loved her during her final days. Granddaughter Rae flew home from Chicago, Caroline came in from Knoxville, while Gabe and Hallie both spoke at the celebration of Vickie’s life. I cannot emphasize enough just how incredible my family and my friends have been through all of this. I am a very blessed man.
That’s about it for this go around….we’ll see you back here in March. I’ll have some news at that time about an exciting new project we want you to be a part of. Stay tuned, and tell your friends about our free fan club. We’d love to have them all join up with us.
1) Have you ever thought of doing a Country’s Family Reunion show during the CMA Festival?
No, but I’m not in charge of when and where we record our shows. Since CFR doesn’t normally have a studio audience, though, I can’t see much advantage in taping during CMA Music Fest other than perhaps making more people aware of our show.
2) I always wondered if writers (you) add the instruments and background singers or if a producer does it.
Well, first I think you have songwriters and recording artists confused. The writer of the song, unless he or she is also the artist, seldom has anything to do with the finished recorded product. Some artists enjoy having a hand in the production of their records and some simply record their vocals and let the producer worry with the details. I fall about halfway in between. In my early days, I liked to participate in every part of the recording process, including overdubs and mixes. These days I try to work with producers who agree on the overall vision of what we are doing, and then I tend to let them take over from there. Maybe I’m just getting lazy in my old age!
3) Is Jan Howard in the Hall of Fame?
No, not yet.
4) When are you coming back to Rocky Mount, Virginia? Will you ever come to Sydney, Nova Scotia? Are you coming to Colorado anytime soon or northern Wyoming?
Obviously, these are three different questions from three different fans. No one person wants to follow us from Virginia to Nova Scotia then out to Colorado! With that said, I tried explaining in our last newsletter that I have very little control over where and when I perform. I have a booking agency (Kinkead Entertainment Group) that represents me and works with the various venues and concert promoters to arrange my tour dates. I love all the places mentioned above, and I’d love to come to all of them, but that’s largely out of my hands. If you have contact with a concert promoter or a theater, park, fair, or casino in your area, tell the representatives there to get in touch with my agency and maybe they can work something out to bring us to your area. Meantime, keep your eye on our website Tour page. Maybe something will pop up that will be convenient for you to come see us. I hope so.
As always, thanks for your questions. Stay curious and keep ’em coming to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to answer as soon and as best as I can. See you next time.
This photo of me and Vickie was taken at Christmastime, 2016, and is one of my favorite pictures of her. At that point, she had completed her first round of chemo and radiation and we were hopeful that the cancer was gone. It returned in mid-2017, however, and she spent two years fighting it some more. She passed away on January 16th of this year. In the other pictures, I always thought I was tall, but compared to my 16-year old grandson, Blake, I look like Little Jimmy Dickens! And I love this picture of me with Maxine Brown. She was one of my favorite people in country music, and could make me laugh at the drop of a hat. Sadly, we lost Maxine, the last remaining member of The Browns, in January too. Her book, “Looking Back To See,” remains one of my all-time favorites.
I wish each one of you who is reading this could have known my sweet Vickie.
She was the kindest, gentlest, classiest, most compassionate, giving and loving
Sadly, she left us and went home to Heaven today…years before it should have been her time to go.
I met her when she was only 19-years old and married to the guitar player in my band. They divorced, she moved back to her home state of Michigan, and then to Washington, D.C., where she married again and lived for seventeen years. We didn’t stay in touch, but when that marriage collapsed, she moved back to Tennessee to be near her two sons. The day she got to town, my picture was on the front page of our local morning newspaper.
She saw it, and it prompted her to call me and ask how my former wife, Becky, and I were doing. She did not know that we, too, had gone our separate ways ten years earlier.
We talked a long while, made arrangements to get together at a nearby Mexican restaurant, and that was almost twelve very short and very wonderful years ago. We never married, we never lived together, but she became my everything from that moment forward.
When she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2016, it rocked both our worlds. Neither of us could believe it. I wrote a song for her, telling her that I would walk with her through the darkness, “Until The Light Comes On Again.” And the light did come on again for a while. She went through chemotherapy and radiation and was able to go back to work (she was the head tailor at the finest men’s store in Nashville), and we thought the worst was behind us. Unfortunately, cancer had other ideas.
It reappeared in the form of tumors on her liver and her lung. More chemo…experimental drugs…holistic procedures…we tried anything and everything to try and keep it at bay. On New Year’s Eve, when I took her to the hospital for what was supposed to have been another routine treatment, the doctor said she was too weak to withstand any more side effects from the powerful drugs they had been giving her. They ruled out surgery. Four days later Hospice was called in.
She took her last breath on this earth sometime between one and three a.m. this morning…and her first breath in Heaven shortly thereafter.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was 15-years younger than me. The roles were supposed to have been reversed. She was supposed to be sitting at the side of MY bed feeding ME soup and ice cream, not the other way around. I have a lot of faith and I believe God’s hand is in everything that happens in this old world, BUT
The first thing I’m going to do when I get to Heaven
Rest In Peace my sweet, wonderful, beautiful, and oh so special lady. I will miss you forever.