November 1, 2008
Although he started his career in front of a microphone, Dean Dillon soon transitioned into one of the finest songwriters in Nashville, notably enhancing the careers of one of its legends and illustrating an uncommon power in melody and verse.
Dean Dillon, born on March 26, 1955, in Lake City, TN, was entranced with country music from an early age. At 15, he appeared in a local Knoxville variety show as a songwriter and performer, and that experience stirred his interest in a career of performing. Soon after arriving in Nashville as a teenager, Dillon accepted a job at the Opryland theme park. In 1976, he landed the role of Hank Williams in the Country Music Show at Opryland. While there, a friend introduced him to songwriter John Schweers, who became Dillon’s mentor. Three weeks later, Barbara Mandrell recorded three of Dillon’s songs. In 1979, Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius had a #1 hit with his “Lying Here in Love with You.”
Between 1979-1983, Dillon charted eight times as a solo artist, and broke the Top 30 with “I’m Into the Bottle (To Get You Out of My Mind).” He also wrote hits for other country stars, like the 1983 George Jones smash “Tennessee Whiskey.” These successes established Dillon as a performer and songwriter, but he continued suffering from an alcohol addiction that threatened to derail his career. Dillon took a five-year hiatus from recording, cleaned up his personal life, and concentrated on songwriting.
He wrote or co-wrote a number of hits during this period, and had considerable success with George Strait, who took five of his songs to the top of the charts between 1985-1988. In fact, his partnership with Strait proved to be one of the most profitable in Nashville history, with inimitable classics such as “The Chair,” “Ocean Front Property” and “Famous Last Words of a Fool” all stemming from the pen of Dillon.
In 2002, Dillon was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Early the following year, Dillon signed a songwriting contract with Sony/ATV Tree, which followed his 15-year relationship with Acuff Rose. He has also notably worked with a younger generation of country stars including Kenny Chesney (“A Lot of Things Different”) and Toby Keith (“A Little Too Late”). These latest achievements demonstrate the unique ability one of the most talented wordsmiths of his time to write timeless songs that span generations and genre boundaries.
Dean Dillon Song Catalog
- “All The Good Ones Are Gone,” Pam Tillis
- “Best Day,” George Strait
- “If I Know Me,” George Strait
- “I’ve Come To Expect It From You,” George Strait
- “Is It Raining At Your House,” Vern Gosdin
- “It Ain’t Cool To Be Crazy About You,” George Strait
- “Ocean Front Property,” George Strait
- “Set ‘Em Up Joe,” Vern Gosdin
- “Spilled Perfume,” Pam Tillis
- “Tennessee Whiskey,” George Jones
- “Unwound,” George Strait