Bill Anderson “Surprises” Opry Crowd, Announces Willie Nelson Appearance—but There’s a Catch

While country music has gone through some drastic changes over the decades with singers like Jelly Roll and HARDY taking over the genre, icons like Bill Anderson continue to hold the spotlight. With a career dating all the way back to the 1950s, the singer not only won numerous awards from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, but he also found himself inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Releasing hits like “Still” while writing songs like “City Lights” caused Anderson to gain the nickname, Whispering Bill. Most recently, he performed at the historic Grand Ole Opry and decided to play a little prank on the audience. 

Videos by American Songwriter

Given the history surrounding the Grand Ole Opry, most performers take the moment seriously. And while Anderson respects the Opry, he also knows how to entertain a crowd. During his performance, the singer serenaded the packed audience. And to make the night even more memorable, he decided to bring out a special guest. With Anderson writing for some of the biggest names in country music, the audience was shocked when he announced Willie Nelson. 

With the crowd on their feet, they soon noticed no Nelson was coming from behind the curtain. That is when Anderson walked back to the center of the stage, laughing. He said, “He’s not here tonight.” The audience joined in on the fun as Anderson was sure to add, “‘If he was… he would come right out here and stand on this circle.”

Bill Anderson Continues To Perform At 86

Uploading a video of the hilarious moment, fans seemed to enjoy the jokes as one commented, “Bill is a great guy with a great sense of humor.” Another comment read, “We were there and it was so so funny.” 

[RELATED: 7 Songs You Didn’t Know Grand Ole Opry Legend Bill Anderson Wrote for Other Artists]

As for Anderson, the icon will celebrate his 87th birthday this coming November. Proving that age is just a number, the singer continues to perform and release music. His last album to hit shelves was The Hits Re-Imagined in 2020. Having such an impact on country music throughout the decades, Rolling Stone considered him to be among the 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time. 

(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

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