Dean Dillon

Induction Year: 2002

Birth Name: Larry Dean Flynn

Birth Date: 03-26-1955

Place of Birth: Lake City, Tennessee

Dean Dillon is the masterful songwriter behind more than 15 of George Strait's biggest country hits, including "Unwound," "The Chair," "Nobody in His Right Mind Would Have Left Her," "Ocean Front Property," and "Here for a Good Time." Over the years, the Texas singer has recorded more than 60 of the songwriter's works. But Dillon has also written major hits for George Jones, Vern Gosdin, Toby Keith, Pam Tillis, Kenny Chesney and others.

Dillon is a native of east Tennessee who had an emotionally chaotic childhood. His father left when he was born, and Dillon was nearly 40 years old before he finally met him. His financially struggling mother gave him to his grandparents to raise. At age five, he was uprooted and brought to live with his mother and stepfather in Michigan. His stepfather bought Dillon a guitar when the boy was seven. It became the youngster's solace and constant companion. Next, he was sent to live with his stepfather's mother in Virginia. Then it was back to his mother and stepfather in east Tennessee.

At age 14, he won a talent contest, which led to a four-year stint performing on a local Knoxville TV show. At age 17, Dillon left home and soon hitchhiked to Nashville. In 1975, he landed a job singing at the Opryland theme park in Music City. He portrayed Hank Williams in the park's "Country Music U.S.A." stage show. Songwriter John Schweers discovered him there and introduced him to Music Row song publishing.

In his early years, Dean Dillon wrote and recorded under the name Dean Rutherford, which was his stepfather's last name. When recording for Plantation Records in 1975, he was billed as Dean Dalton. When he signed with RCA Records in 1980, he became Dean Dillon. In addition to solo records at RCA, he also made two duet albums with the edgy honky-tonk stylist Gary Stewart. Dillon subsequently recorded for Capitol and Atlantic before deciding to devote himself to songwriting full time in 1993.

It was while still a recording artist himself that Dillon gained his first George Strait hit in 1981 with "Unwound." As luck would have it, it was also Strait's first hit. Their successes together atop the country charts have continued unabated for three decades. Along the way, penning hits for Strait and other country stars, Dillon has proven to be a master of capturing life's vicissitudes in songs that blend traditional stylings with modern wordplay and sensibilities.

"A Little Too Late"

(written with Toby Keith, Scotty Emerick)

Toby Keith2006 #2 country, #53 pop

"A Lot of Things Different"

(written with Bill Anderson)

Kenny Chesney2003 #6 country, #55 pop

"All the Good Ones Are Gone"

(written with Bob McDill)

Pam Tillis1997 #4 country

"Bedroom Reunion"

(written with John McCullom)

Barbara Mandrell1977 

"By Now"

(written with Don Pfrimmer, Charles Quillen)

Steve Wariner1981 #6 country

"Darned If I Don't (Danged If I Do)"

(written with Ronnie Dunn)

Shenandoah1995 #4 country

"Easy Come Easy Go"

(written with Aaron Barker)

George Strait1993 #1 country, #71 pop

"Famous Last Words of a Fool"

(written with Rex Huston)

Dean Dillon1983 #83 country
George Strait1988 #1 country

"Get My Drink On"

(written with Toby Keith, Scotty Emerick)

Toby Keith2007 #11 country, #88 pop

"Here for a Good Time"

(written with George Strait, George Strait Jr.)

George Strait2011 #2 country, #46 pop

"I'm Alive"

(written with Kenny Chesney, Mark Tamburino)

Willie Nelson2008 
Kenny Chesney & Dave Matthews2009 #6 country, #32 pop

"I've Come to Expect It From You"

(written with Buddy Cannon)

George Strait1990 #1 country

"If I Know Me"

(written with Pam Belford)

George Strait1991 #1 country

"Is it Raining at Your House"

(written with Hank Cochran, Vern Gosdin)

Vern Gosdin1990 #10 country
Brad Paisley2003 

"It Ain't Cool to Be Crazy About You"

(written with Royce Porter)

George Strait1986 #1 country

"Living for the Night"

(written with George Strait, George Strait Jr.)

George Strait2009 #2 country, #53 pop

"Lying in Love with You"

(written with Gary Harrison)

Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius1979 #2 country

"Marina Del Ray"

(written with Frank Dycus)

George Strait1982 #6 country

"Nobody in His Right Mind Would Have Left Her"

Dean Dillon1981 #25 country
Keith Whitley1985 
George Strait1986 #1 country

"Ocean Front Property"

(written with Royce Porter, Hank Cochran)

George Strait1987 #1 country

"Set 'Em Up Joe"

(written with Buddy Cannon, Hank Cochran, Vern Gosdin)

Vern Gosdin1988 #1 country
David Frizzell2002 
Melonie Cannon2008 
Jamey Johnson2010 
Randy Travis2014 

"She Let Herself Go"

(written with Kerry Phillips)

George Strait2005 #1 country, #54 pop

"Spilled Perfume"

(written with Pam Tillis)

Pam Tillis1994 #5 country

"Tennessee Whiskey"

(written with Linda Hargrove)

David Allan Coe1981 #77 country
George Jones1983 #2 country

"The Best Day"

(written with Carson Chamberlain)

George Strait2000 #1 country, #31 pop

"The Chair"

(written with Hank Cochran)

George Strait1985 #1 country

"Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago"

(written with Dale Dodson, Lee Ann Womack)

Lee Ann Womack2005 #32 country


(written with Frank Dycus)

George Strait1981 #6 country

"What Would Your Memories Do"

(written with Hank Cochran)

Vern Gosdin1984 #10 country

"What's New with You"

Con Hunley1981 #11 country

Dean Dillon

Induction Year: 2002