I had the pleasure of working for Buddy Killen, a successful man in many areas of the music business, including publishing. Killen was born in Florence, Alabama. He was a bass player in the Grand Ole Opry before he was hired, in 1953, to listen to new songs in a new business started by Jack Stapp, the manager of the Grand Ole Opry. When Stapp died in 1980, Killen became the sole owner of Stapp's company, Tree International Publishing. During his early career he worked with artists such as Dolly Parton, Dottie West, Diana Trask, Exile, Roger Miller, Joe Tex, Ronnie McDowell and T. G. Sheppard.
Garth Brooks approached Buddy for management, but He told him he wasn't interested in his kind of Country. Buddy personally told me it was the biggest mistake he ever made. His big regret.
When Buddy passed away from cancer I attended his service at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville with John Jay Hooker, former mayor of Nashville. The place was packed . I was sitting up front and the three seats next to me were reserved. One was John Jays and I didn't have any idea who the others were for. John Jay was delivering the eulogy so he was up on the stage. Suddenly the door opened and in walked Dolly Parton and her husband. I looked around and didn't see any other available seats. My heart started pounding , sweat formed on my brow because I knew The seats next to me were for her. Its good that I was sitting down because I would have fainted right then and there. She walked to the front , smiled and sat down next to me. I could see John Jay grinning because he knew how much I loved Dolly Parton. She was my first country music love, my first concert, and one of the reasons I am a songwriter. I took a deep breath and tried to stop the tears from forming , but too late. I looked at Dolly and said.." Buddy was a good man and will be missed. I have loved you since I was a little girl . Thank you for your music and sweet soul. Forgive me for crying but you are an inspiration to me." She reached over, hugged me and said, "Aww thank you sweetheart. I loved Buddy. I wouldn't be where I am if it were not for his help. He was a good, good man." During the service she would pat me on the knee. We both laughed and cried. There was a reception afterwards and I got to hand out with Dolly for about 30 minutes before she had to leave. That was a memorable day.