By Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
Dolly Parton shared her touching eulogy for Bill Owens, the uncle who was instrumental in her career.
The country music superstar, 75, revealed on social media Owens had died at the age of 85. No cause of death was given.
He played a pivotal role in her early success, Parton said, encouraging her to write songs, practise singing and getting the star her first job on the Cas Walker Show.
“I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did,” Parton wrote.
“I’ll start this eulogy by saying I wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t been there. 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.”
Parton said Owens would take her to Nashville, Tennessee, the home of country music, and walk her up and down the streets trying to get her signed to a record label in the 1960s.
Parton wrote: “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 also wrote songs, “at least 800 of them through the years,” according to Parton, and they collaborated on music.
They wrote Put It Off Until Tomorrow together and it won the BMI Song Of The Year in 1966.
Owens also wrote songs recorded by the likes of Loretta Lynn, Porter Wagoner, Ricky Skaggs and Kris Kristofferson, according to Parton, and played guitar on stage with her during her early career.
Owens later worked at the Dollywood amusement park.
Parton said: “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.”