Featured Customs: Endorsed Artist Dean Dillon’s Bedell Custom Guitar

(Above: Tom Bedell and Dean Dillon examine the Bedell parlor body shape in the custom shop)

“Dean’s visit to the Bedell Seed to Song Studio was as good as it gets.  He writes his hits on a nylon stringed folk guitar.  I was so excited to be designing a special guitar for him.  But he threw us all for a loop.  Dean fell in love with a stunning figured walnut tone set. I was pointing out the tonal qualities of a walnut back when Dean interrupted me, ‘This is not for the back, I want this gorgeous piece of walnut on the top!’ Yikes!

Walnut is a stiff, dense wood rarely used for a steel stringed top, never on a nylon. But Dean insisted…even requesting bits of turquoise be inlayed among the figure on the top. To make it work, we cut the chosen walnut as thinly as possible and laminated it to a cedar tone set.  This gave Dean the look he wanted and gave his guitar a beautiful nylon folk sound.” – Tom Bedell

“I’ve been writing songs all my life. My Bedell will make sure I do the rest of it.” – Dean Dillon

About Dean Dillon:

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 STARTIME as a songwriter and performer; by the end of high school, Dillon had his mind set on Nashville.

Hitchhiking to guitar town in 1973, it wasn’t long before he caught the watchful eye of Shelby Singleton of SUN RECORDS.After a short recording stint that produced one record, he was once again walking the streets of a town he barely knew. As luck would have it, days of pounding pavement and beating on doors payed off when songwriter Frank Dycus took an interest in him. In the years to come it was Dillon-Dycus collaborations that would help launch country music legend George Strait. Dean also worked with ex-Porter Wagoner fiddler Mac McGahey’s combo 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 hit songwriter John Schweers, who in turn introduced him to heavyweight nashville producer, publisher Tom Collins. Three weeks later, Barbara Mandrell recorded three of Dillon’s songs. In 1979, Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius had a number one hit with his “Lying Here in Love with You” a song he co-wrote with fellow tunesmith Gary Harrison of “Strawberry Wine” fame. It was both writers first #1 record.

Between 1979-1983, as an artist Dillon charted eight 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 stars, like the 1983 George Jones hit “Tennessee Whiskey.” These successes established Dillon as a performer and songwriter; It wasn’t long untill Dillon was paired by RCA record head, Jerry Bradley, with Gary Stewart, the “King of the Honky Tonkers.” The two mens’ vices fed off of one another, and while their two bleary, good-timing albums were successful (especially 1982’s Brotherly Love), the partnership had little use for the straight and narrow. After Those Were the Days, 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 charts between 1981-1988. The exposure landed Dillon a new contract with Capitol, who released two Ricky Scruggs-produced albums, Slick Nickel and I’ve Learned to Live. The latter featured the Tanya Tucker duet “Don’t You Even Think About Leaving.” Dillon next signed with Atlantic, where he issued his most successful album. 1991’s Out of Your Ever Lovin’ Mind referenced the hard country of Dillon’s heroes, but it also flirted with pop. The LP was lauded as a throwback, an answer to Nashville’s penchant for vapidity. While he stopped performing, Dillon’s songwriting career thrived for the rest of the 1990s, as he continued to work with Strait and newer faces like Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and Lee Ann Womack. In 2002, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (along with Bob Dylan and Shel Silverstein). Early the following year, Dillon signed a songwriting contract with Sony/ATV Tree, which came after his 15-year relationship with Acuff Rose, a smaller publishing company Sony acquired in July 2002. At present, Dean is still cranking out the hits and just this year recorded a duet with his friend and hero George Strait. “West Texas Town” co-written with the fabulous Robert Earl Keen can be found on Strait’s “TROUBADOR” album. To date Dillon has had over Fifty songs recorded by King George alone. Read more at deandillon.com


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