BUDDY KILLEN, who built the biggest country music publishing business in the world before selling it in 1989, has died. He was 73. Killeen, died Wednesday (01NOV06) of pancreatic cancer at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. His company, Tree International, built a 38,000-song catalog, starting with Elvis Presley's HEARTBREAK HOTEL, written by the late MAE BOREN AXTON and TOMMY DURDEN. A former GRAND OLE OPRY bass player, Killeen was hired in 1951 to listen to new songs and sing demo tapes for $35 (GBP19) a week for a fledgling part-time business founded by Grand Ole Opry manager JACK STAPP. When Stapp died in 1980, Killeen became sole owner of what became the Tree International empire. A native of Alabama, his keen eye for talent brought in songwriters like Dolly Parton, BILL ANDERSON, ROGER MILLER and HARLAN HOWARD, among others. Killeen sold his company to Sony for an estimated $30 million (GBP17 million) and then went on to found Killen Music Group, which published hit songs for bands such as Outkast. He was co-publisher of the hit ME AND MY GANG by Rascal Flatts and published songs recorded by Faith Hill, Trace Adkins, Kenny Chesney and REBA MCENTIRE.