AceShowbiz - Dolly Parton is grieving over the loss of a special family member. Revealing through a social media post that her uncle and mentor Billy Earl Owens has passed away at the age of 85, the "Coat of Many Colors" hitmaker expressed her heartbreak in a moving eulogy.
Making public the despairing news on Wednesday, April 7, the "I Will Always Love You" hitmaker penned on Instagram, "I've lost my beloved Uncle Bill Owens. I knew my heart would break when he passed, and it did." She went on to note how big Uncle Bill's role in her career. "I wouldn't be here if he hadn't been there," she credited him.
"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," the legendary country singer added. "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."
The "9 to 5" star continued describing how Uncle Bill endlessly supported her throughout her early career. "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 shared.
Along with the heartbreaking post, Dolly put out a photo of her younger self and late Uncle Bill in which they both held what appeared to be charter. "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," she stated in the same post.
Dolly wrote a longer tribute to late Uncle Bill on her website. In it, she informed fans of Uncle Bill's achievements. "Uncle Bill was so many things," the 75-year-old raved. "He wrote great songs, at least 800 of them through the years. We wrote several songs together, the biggest one being 'Put It Off Until Tomorrow.' We won our first big award on that one back in 1966. It was the BMI Song of the Year."
Dolly ended her tribute with a thank you note and a vow to always keep Uncle Bill close to her heart. "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," she wrote.