Bill Phillips, Who Scored Top 10 Hit With Early Dolly Parton Song, Dead at 74

Singer Bill Phillips died Monday (Aug. 23) at his home in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., following a lengthy battle with diabetes. He was 74. Although he charted records from 1959 to 1979, Phillips is best known for showcasing the songwriting talent of young Dolly Parton via his 1966 recording of “Put It Off Until Tomorrow,” a tune Parton co-wrote with her uncle, Bill Owens. Parton, then 20 years old and still unsigned to her first label, also sang harmony on the record. It was Phillips’ highest-ranking single, peaking at No. 6 in Billboard. Born William Clarence Phillips on Jan. 28, 1936, in Canton, N.C., the singer first achieved national prominence in 1959-60 through two singles he recorded on Columbia Records with Mel Tillis — “Sawmill” and “Georgia Town Blues.” His primary label home, however, was Decca Records, where he labored from the mid-’60s until the early ’70s, scoring such hits as “The Company You Keep” and “The Words I’m Gonna Have to Eat.” He later recorded for United Artists and Soundwaves. From 1969 to 1984, Phillips toured with the Kitty Wells-Johnny Wright Show. He appeared as a guest artist on Wells and Wright’s final performance in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2000. Funeral services will be held Friday (Aug. 27) at Hermitage Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens in Old Hickory, Tenn.