Dolly Parton shares touching tribute as beloved uncle Bill Owens dies aged 85

Dolly Parton has shared a heartfelt tribute to her uncle Bill Owens, who was instrumental at the start of her career. 

The country icon, 75, shared a photo of her with her uncle, who died at the age of 85, telling her followers: ‘I’ve lost my beloved Uncle Bill Owens. 

‘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.’

Dolly revealed: ‘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. 

‘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. 

‘He was there to take me around to all of the local shows, got me my first job on the “Cas Walker Show.” 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. 

‘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.’

Dolly also revealed that Bill wrote ‘at least 800’ songs throughout the years and helped her win her ‘first big award’, the BMI song of the year in 1966, for Put It Off Until Tomorrow which they wrote together. 

She added that Bill also wrote tracks for other stars of the country scene including Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs and Kris Kristofferson among others, as well as travelling around Nashville to accompany stars on his guitar.

Dolly described Bill as ‘funny, friendly and generous’, always on hand to offer advice or ‘a kind word’ to people starting out in the music industry, as well as working at Dollywood since it opened.

She finished off the beautiful eulogy by writing: ‘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. 

‘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.’

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