Born in 1946, Parton’s singing career has spanned over six decades, garnered countless music awards including ten Grammy’s, ten Country Music Association awards and 44 top ten studio albums. But the first song that ignited this country music stalwart’s passion for songwriting was a sweet number called ‘Puppy Love’.
Read more below about Dolly Parton’s early success and the song that started it all.
A gifted storyteller, Parton’s love for writing relatable, touching songs began at the tender age of 11 when she penned the song ‘Puppy Love’. She went on to record the catchy tune at Goldband Records, Louisiana in 1959 aged 13.
Accompanied by her grandmother, Rena Owens, 13-year-old Dolly made the 30-hour bus trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana to the recording studios of Goldband Records where her first foray into the music industry would take place.
Reflecting on the journey that would change her life, she lamented: “I don’t think I’ll ever forget the way the inside of that bus smelled. It was a combination of diesel fuel, Naugahyde, and people who were going places.”
Parton gives credit for the success of her career to her uncle, Bill Owens with whom she co-wrote ‘Puppy Love’ and several other subsequent songs.
The B side to ‘Puppy Love’ is a song entitled ‘Girl Left Alone’ co-written with her aunt, Jo Owens, Bill’s sister.
Listen to Parton’s ‘Puppy Love’ and ‘Girl Left Alone’ here:
It’s All Thanks to Uncle Bill
Keen to have Dolly’s talents be heard by the masses, Uncle Bill managed to get Dolly backstage at the variety radio show hosted by multi-millionaire, Cas Walker.
However, Dolly didn’t need much coaxing and marched up to Walker and declared that she must work for him. Bowled over by the youngster’s determination, he allowed Dolly to perform to rapturous applause and from that moment on, she was struck by the performing bug.
Dolly honored Uncle Bill at a presentation at her theme park, Dollywood in 2013 telling him, “I know a lot of people get a lot of credit for my career, but if it hadn’t been for you, I never would’ve gotten out of these hills.”
Watch Dolly pay tribute to her Uncle Bill Owens here:
Hooray for Dollywood
From humble beginnings and one of 12 children, Parton must never have imagined the success she would encounter over her incredible career.
One of the most surreal would surely be the opening of her very own theme park, Dollywood in 1986.
Set in 150 acres in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee the park was a way for Dolly to give back to the community that raised her, stating in a 2010 interview: “I always thought that if I made it big or got successful at what I had started out to do, that I wanted to come back to my part of the country and do something great, something that would bring a lot of jobs into this area,”
One of the top attractions of the park is understandably the Chasing Rainbows Museum. A curated collection of memorabilia from Dolly’s decades of success.
Quite the feat for a little girl from Tennessee with a talent for songwriting and a tenacious drive for stardom. Could she have known that a sweet song entitled ‘Puppy Love’ with innocent lyrics of childhood crushes would be the gateway to a phenomenal career that has stood the test of time?