Dolly Parton has paid an emotional tribute to her uncle and mentor, the country songwriter Bill Owens, following his death at the age of 85.
“I’ve lost my beloved Uncle Bill Owens. I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did,” she wrote on Instagram.
Parton said told fans “I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there”, before explaining how he had shaped her early career.
“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,” she 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.
”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.”
She added: “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.”
Owens played an integral role in Parton’s early career, having penned her first ever single ‘Puppy Love’ which came out in 1959 when she was just 13.
Owens eventually took Parton to Nashville to pitch her songs to record labels and publishing companies.
Yesterday (March 7) saw Parton‘s MusiCares tribute concert arriving on Netflix.