top of page


Dean’s songwriting career

Dean Dillon was born on March 26, 1955 in Lake City, TN and started playing guitar at the age of 7. At 15 he appeared in a local Knoxville Variety Show called Jim Clayton’s Startime as a songwriter and performer.

After hitchiking to Music City following high school he caught the watchful eye of Shelby Singleton of Sun Records. In 1976 Dean landed the role of Hank Williams in Opryland’s Country Music Show, USA. The theme park gig indirectly helped him secure his first publishing deal and three weeks later Barbara Mandrell recorded three of his songs. In 1979 Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius had a #1 hit with Dean’s “Lying Here in Love With You”, co-written with Gary Harrison of “Strawberry Wine” fame.

Although his future lay in writing songs for others, the young singer was hell-bent on making it as a recording artist. Between 1979-1981 Dean released 12 singles for RCA Records. Three of these reached the Top 30 on the Country charts, including “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her”, which climbed to #25 and later became a huge #1 hit for George Strait.

Between 1979-1983 as an artist Dean charted 8 times 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 artists like the 1983 George Jones #1 “Tennessee Whiskey”. These successes established Dillon as a performer as well as a songwriter. Before long he was paired by RCA’s Jerry Bradley with Gary Stewart, the “King of the Honky-Tonkers”.

After working with Stewart & “Those Were the Days”, Dean took a 5-year recording hiatus to concentrate on songwriting. He wrote several hits during this time and had huge success with George Strait, who took 5 of his songs to the charts. This led to a new contract with Capitol Records, who released 2 albums, Slick Nickel and I’ve Learned to Live. 

In 2002 he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, along with Bob Dylan & Shel Silverstein. In early 2003 he signed a songwriting contract with SONY/ATV Tree, after a 15-year relationship with Rose Acuff, acquired by Sony.

Recently he’s written for new faces Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith & Lee Ann Womack. His association with George Strait over the years has brought him to an ICON STATUS in country music. This relationship has defined the careers of both men. Dillon has composed 55 songs for Strait, including 19 singles, with 11 Number 1 hits. Even in a career like Strait’s, the Dillon titles stand out: Marina del Rey, The Chair, I’ve Come to Expect it From You, Easy Come, Easy Go, and The Best Day.

At his home in Gunnison, Colorado, Dean’s walls display many awards, including 1985 Billboard Country Music Artist of the Year, 1986 Nashville Songwriter’s Award, 1986 NSAI Award, the 1995, 96, & 98 CMA Triple Play Award, Three-time Grammy Nominee, 26-#1 Records Award, Lee Iacocca Award & the coveted 2013 BMI Icon Award.

bottom of page