Dolly Parton’s uncle Bill Owens, who helped launch her career, dies

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Bill Owens, Dolly Parton‘s uncle and a songwriter for some of country music’s biggest names, has died, according to a touching tribute written by Parton. 

Owens, who was an artist himself, took Parton to local performances when she was younger and helped her get her first gig on the “Cas Walker Show.” As Parton climbed the charts and made history, Owens was there, supporting her along the way.

He wrote “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” with Parton, which went on to win the 1966 BMI Song of the Year award. But that’s not the only hit he had. 

Owens wrote songs that were recorded by Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs, Kris Kristofferson and others. Although Owens worked behind the scenes most of the time, Parton wrote that he enjoyed traveling with famous artists and occasionally playing his guitar on stage. 

Dolly Parton dedicated a corner of her museum at Dolly to Uncle Bill Owens, the man she credits with helping to launch her career. In a ceremony at Dollywood Friday, Mar. 22, 2013 she and Owens cut the ribbon on the display where she said Owens will appear in person during this year at the park.

Owens was also passionate about his work at Dollywood and protecting endangered plants in the park.

Dolly Parton:‘The whole magic about me is that I look artificial, but I’m totally real’

Parton wrote that Owens partnered with Dollywood, The American Chestnut Foundation, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and The American Eagle Foundation to bring the native chestnut tree back to the Great Smoky Mountains area. He and his wife, Sandy, also planted 70,000 trees across the park property.

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