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Bill Owens (1935–2021), songwriter who was Dolly Parton’s uncle and mentor

by Linnea Crowther

Bill Owens was a country music songwriter who was Dolly Parton’s uncle and mentor.

Building Dolly’s career, and his own

Owens wrote songs for many top country musicians, including Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner (1927–2007), and Kris Kristofferson. He was also a guitarist who toured extensively with musicians including his niece, Parton. In the early days of her career, Owens helped her as she worked to get a record contract, and he wrote music with her. Among the songs Owens and Parton wrote together was “Put it Off Until Tomorrow” from her 1967 debut album, “Hello, I’m Dolly.” The song was a hit for Bill Phillips and won BMI Song of the Year in 1966. Most of Parton’s early albums include at least one track written by Owens or by the two together. Owens also worked at Dollywood, performing there for many years. An environmentalist, he was an instrumental part of the fight to restore the American chestnut tree to the Great Smoky Mountains.

Tributes to Bill Owens

Full obituary: DollyParton.com

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