Dr. Robert F. Thomas

Album: My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973)
Play Video


  • Robert F. Thomas was a humble country doctor who tended to poor folks in East Tennessee, where Dolly Parton was born in her family's one-room cabin on a snowy day in 1946. Like the rest of his patients, the Partons couldn't afford to pay the doctor with money, so they offered him a sack of cornmeal in exchange for delivering baby Dolly.

    For her 11th album, My Tennessee Mountain Home, Dolly wrote a tribute to Thomas for his unwavering commitment to the Pittman Center community, even in the face of danger from the very people he was helping. "He was such a wonderful man," the singer recalled in her 2020 book, Songteller. "But he would go up into those mountains with those country people, and a lot of them would hold a gun on him: 'If my wife dies or my daughter dies, you're going to die, too.'" She added: "He was there to save those poor people of the mountains, and he was kind of a savior to us."
  • Thomas was also a Methodist preacher who served overseas as a missionary until his son contracted a serious disease and he returned to the US. The church sent him to the Smoky Mountains, where he pastored a church and opened a small clinic in Pittman Center.
  • In Sevier County, where Pittman Center is located, there's also a charity fund named in honor of Dr. Thomas, which Dolly supports. Thomas died in 1980 at age 89.
  • The concept album, featuring the songs "My Tennessee Mountain Home" and "Daddy's Working Boots," tells the story of Dolly's journey from the cradle to Music Row. It peaked at #19 on the Country Albums chart.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Gilby Clarke

Gilby ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

The Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist in the early '90s, Gilby talks about the band's implosion and the side projects it spawned.

Mark Arm of Mudhoney

Mark Arm of MudhoneySongwriter Interviews

When he was asked to write a song for the Singles soundtrack, Mark thought the Seattle grunge scene was already overblown, so that's what he wrote about.

Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees

Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn YankeesSongwriter Interviews

Revisit the awesome glory of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees: cheesily-acted videos, catchy guitar licks, long hair, and lyrics that are just plain relatable.

Al Kooper

Al KooperSongwriter Interviews

Kooper produced Lynyrd Skynyrd, played with Dylan and the Stones, and formed BS&T.

Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."

Tony Banks of Genesis

Tony Banks of GenesisSongwriter Interviews

Genesis' key-man re-examines his solo career and the early days of music video.