Dolly shares why turning 18 and moving to Nashville takes the cake for favorite birthday memory.
From an early age, Dolly knew she wanted to become a star. As a teenager in East Tennessee, she could hardly wait until she was old enough to leave home and move to Nashville, TN.
Before she turned 18, Dolly pursued her dreams in Music City part-time with her Uncle Bill Owens. The two had a publishing contract, and Dolly had released two songs on Mercury Records, but she knew she wanted to be there full-time. She counted down the days until she could make her big move. Dolly said,
“Probably the best birthday I ever had was when I turned 18, because I had been traveling back and forth to Nashville all those years before, and I knew my Daddy would send a posse after me if I left before I was 18.”
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Dolly Parton and her Uncle Bill Owens are signed to Tree Publishing and Dolly gets a recording deal with Mercury Records in 1962.
Dolly and her Uncle Bill Owens shared a love of music and songwriting and a passion to break into the music industry. By 1962, the two had written several songs together and put their efforts into being noticed by Nashville music executives. Their determination ultimately led to a meeting with Buddy Killen at Tree Publishing. Buddy liked their songs and signed them to Tree Publishing. Buddy also had Dolly record a demo for Mercury Records.
She recorded “It’s Sure Gonna Hurt,” a song written by Dolly and her Uncle Bill Owens, and “The Love You Gave Me.” Both songs released on Mercury Records received airplay on local stations near Sevierville, TN. Dolly said,
“I will never forget hearing [myself] on a Knoxville station, WIVK. There I was, actually hearing myself sing, not on a tape or studio monitor but on a real radio station that thousands of people were listening to… at that very moment. I was so proud I walked around for days with my chest all stuck out. Somehow, nobody noticed.”
With her first single on Goldband Records at age 13, a publishing deal with Tree Publishing just a couple years later, Dolly’s recording deal with Mercury Records was the next step towards her journey to stardom. Her relationship with Buddy Killen would prove to be a long, successful part of her professional career and can be credited for much of her incredible success early on.
About Buddy Killen:
William Doyce “Buddy” Killen (November 13, 1932 – November 1, 2006) was a record producer and music publisher, and a former owner of Trinity Broadcasting Network, and the largest country music publishing business, before he sold it in 1989. He was also the owner of Killen Music Group, involved with more diverse genres of music, such as pop and rap. [source]