"I wouldn't be here if he hadn't been here," Parton wrote.
Country songwriter Bill Owens, who was a mentor and early songwriting partner to his niece Dolly Parton and helped start her career in country music, has died. He was 85. Parton’s publicist confirmed his death on Wednesday, and Parton wrote a lengthy eulogy for her uncle, saying “I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there.”
Owens helped Parton at the age of 10 get her first radio performance on the “Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour” radio show in Knoxville, Tennessee. He encouraged her to practice her guitar and often drove her to local shows where she could perform.
“It’s really hard to say or to know for sure what all you owe somebody for your success,” Parton wrote of her uncle. “But I can tell you for sure that I owe Uncle Billy an awful lot.” They wrote songs together, including Parton’s very first single “Puppy Love,” which came out in 1959 when Parton was just 13. Owens eventually started taking her to Nashville to pitch songs to record labels and publishing companies.