Dolly honors her uncle with display at Dollywood museum

Mar. 23, 2013 @ 11:22 AM

After the sneak peak for Dollywood season ticket holders and a quick costume change, Dolly Parton reappeared at the Chasing Rainbows Museum in the park to dedicate a display room to her uncle, Bill Owens, the man she credits for her rise to fame.

"He was my first manager, the one that saw me when I was just a little thing singing my songs and doing my steps," Parton said. "He said, 'Hey, I think we can make some money at this.' He's actually been the one who's helped me the most through the years ... of course I thought it would be a wonderful thing to do some sort of tribute to him as part of the museum."

The room is forest-themed, reflecting Owens' involvement with the American Chestnut Foundation, which is dedicated to reintroducing the American chestnut tree to forests in the Eastern U.S. The musuem features to Parton memorabilia.

The theme also suggests "the old caves" in the Smokies where she used to roam, she said.

When she was older, it was Owens who drove her to Knoxville and Nashville at the beginning of her career.

"We traveled a lot, and right around here, too," Owens said. "When she was 10 years old I started taking her back and forth to 'The Cas Walker Show' in Knoxville. ... My old car, I just wore it out."

"But it worked, didn't it?" Parton said.

Parton said Owens will play music in the room when he's at the park, "answering questions, singing his songs and telling people about the old days."

"He's a wonderful guitar player and a wonderful songwriter, and we've written many songs together," Parton said. "... I know a lot of people get a lot of credit for my career, but if it hadn't been for you (Owens), I never would've gotten out of these hills."

"You didn't let me down," Owens said.

rhargett@themountainpress.com