TOP PHOTO: “Oh, my goodness,” said Dean Dillon as WLAF’s Bill Waddell shows him a program from the play where he was a regular in Ole Smoky back in the early 1970s. The play was performed for years at Eagle Bluff.

By Jim Freeman

LAKE CITY, TN (WLAF) – It’s hard to believe that it was 50 years ago this summer when Dean Dillion’s outstretched arm hitched him a ride to Nashville. Little did anyone know that this was the first big step to a hall of fame career for the lanky, long haired teenager.

See the full photo gallery HERE from WLAF’s Charlie Hutson.

Jim Freeman and Dean Dillon catch up for the first time in quite a while on this special day for Dean.

On Friday morning, as I walked toward the Coal Creek Miners Museum, a voice called out “James Freeman.” There he was, just like in high school, hidden away smoking a cigarette between two parked cars like he was afraid he was going to get caught. It was Dean a few minutes before he was going to be honored with a Tennessee Music Pathways marker.

Dean Dillon pulls the cover from his marker that is located along Main Street on the corner of the Coal Creek Miners Museum at Lake City.
Dean Dillon is still writing and performing and performed Saturday night at Townsend.

It was just like we hadn’t seen each other since the day before. The visit came easy, like always, and it was fun catching up with my old childhood friend who is now a living legend.

Dean Dillon is welcomed Friday afternoon by Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development (TDTD), Mark Ezell.

Though he’d played, sung and written songs before that long ago summer, that first big step came only a handful of weeks after graduating high school. After all these years, that first big step led to Friday’s well deserved ceremony. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 09/25/2023-6AM-PHOTOS COURTESY OF WLAF’S CHARLIE HUTSON)