Dolly Parton Mourns Death of Uncle Who Helped Launch Her Career: ‘We Will Always Love You’
Dolly Parton is mourning the death of someone who played a key role in helping her launch her career in music. The country legend turned to Facebook on Wednesday (April 7) to reveal the death of her uncle, Bill Owens, writing, "I wouldn't be here if he hadn't been there."
"I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did," Parton shares alongside a picture of herself and her uncle.
"He was there... there in my young years to encourage me to keep playing my guitar, to keep writing my songs, to keep practicing my singing," she adds. "And he was there to help build my confidence standing on stage where he was always standing behind me or close beside me with his big ol' red Gretsch guitar."
Parton goes on to list a number of other ways her uncle impacted her career, observing, "It's really hard to say or to know for sure what all you owe somebody for your success. But I can tell you for sure that I owe Uncle Billy an awful lot."
The country icon estimates that her Uncle Bill wrote at least 800 songs over the years, including a collaboration with her on 1966's "Put It Off Until Tomorrow," which won BMI's Song of the Year award. Artists including Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs, Kris Kristofferson and more also cut his songs, and he also worked on the road with various artists, as well as performing at Dollywood for years.
Parton says her uncle partnered with Dollywood, the American Chestnut Foundation, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the American Eagle Foundation to "bring back the endangered chestnut tree to the Great Smoky Mountain area. That was his passion." He also took on the cause of protecting the environment; he and his wife, Sandy, planted 70,000 trees on Dollywood's property.
"I bet a lot of our own relatives don't even know all of the great things that Uncle Bill did behind the scenes through his life," Parton reflects, "But the greatest thing he ever did for me was to help me see my dreams come true and for that I will be forever grateful."
"I'm sure that Uncle Bill's friends, fans, his wife Sandy, his kids, grandkids and great grandkids will join me when I say that we will always love you," she writes in closing. "Rest in peace, Uncle Bill."
Read Parton's entire post below:
Most Unforgettable Dolly Parton Moments
See Dolly Parton's Life and Career in Pictures