Dolly Parton mourns late uncle Bill Owens: ‘I knew my heart would break when he passed and it did’
Dolly Parton on Wednesday mourned her uncle Billy Earl Owens following his death at 85.
‘I’ve lost my beloved Uncle Bill Owens,’ Parton, 75, said in an Instagram post. ‘I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did. I’ll start this eulogy by saying I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there.
The iconic singer-songwriter credited Owens for his stalwart support of her throughout her career as a musical artist.
RIP: Dolly Parton, 75, on Wednesday mourned her uncle Billy Earl Owens following his death at 85
‘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,’ Parton said. ‘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.’
The Locust Ridge, Tennessee native said Owens ‘was there to take me around to all of the local shows,’ and got her her ‘first job on the Cas Walker Show,’ all the while tirelessly supporting her as an unsung hero in the early days of her career.
‘He took me back-&-forth to Nashville through the years, walked up-&-down the streets with me, knocking on doors to get me signed up to labels or publishing companies,’ the Jolene artist. ‘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 9 To 5 star, in an extended statement on her website, said, ‘I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did.’
The Locust Ridge, Tennessee native, snapped in December, credited her late uncle as an unsung hero in her career
Legend: Parton was snapped onstage in 2019 at the Grammy Awards
The Islands In the Stream singer credited Owens for his musical abilities that inspired her in her early days, as well as their collaborations.
‘Uncle Bill was so many things,’ she said. ‘He loved the music, loved to play, loved his guitar and loved to write and sing. He wrote great songs, at least 800 of them through the years.
‘We wrote several songs together, the biggest one being Put It Off Until Tomorrow. We won our first big award on that one back in 1966. It was the BMI Song of the Year.’
She noted that songs Owens wrote were later recorded by vaunted artists such as Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs, Kris Kristofferson and many others.
Parton detailed a number of endeavors Owens undertook throughout his life, from his work at her amusement park Dollywood to his environmental efforts protecting endangered trees and planting thousands of others.
‘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,’ she said. ‘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. Rest in peace, Uncle Bill.’