Nashville, Tennessee: Country songwriter Bill Owens was a mentor for his niece Dolly Parton, an early songwriting partner, and helped him begin his career in country music. He was 85 years old.
A Parton spokeswoman confirmed his death on Wednesday, and Parton wrote a long compliment to her uncle, saying that I wouldn’t be here if he weren’t there.
Owens helped Parton play his first radio show at the age of 10 on a Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour radio show in Knoxville, Tennessee. He encouraged her to practice the guitar and was often able to take her to a local show where she could play.
Parton writes about her uncle that it’s really hard to tell or be sure you know what you owe to someone for your success. But I’m sure I’m in terrible debt to Uncle Billy.
They wrote songs together, including Parton’s first single, “Puppy Love,” released in 1959 when Parton was 13 years old. Owens eventually took her to Nashville and began selling songs to record labels and publishers.
Owens and Paton were signed by legendary country producer Fred Foster as songwriters to his publisher Combine Music, and Foster signed Paton as an artist on his monument record label in 1965.
Parton and Owens wrote Bill Phillips’ top 10 hit song “Put It Off Until Tomorrow”. Parton also sings backup vocals on the recording. It was selected as this year’s BMI song in 1966. Phillips also recorded another song they wrote, “The Company You Keep.”
Owens wrote songs recorded by Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs, and Kris Kristofferson. He is also a tour musician and backed up Parton in his early days in Nashville.
Owens also worked as a performer at Parton’s Dollywood theme park, and his passion was to restore native chestnut trees to the Great Smoky Mountains region. Parton said he and his wife, Sundi, planted 70,000 trees on Dollywood’s land throughout their lives.
He was entertaining, friendly and generous, Parton said. He always had friendly words and gave good advice to the young people who started the business.
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Bill Owens, uncle, Dolly Parton’s musical mentor dies
Source link Bill Owens, uncle, Dolly Parton’s musical mentor dies