By Mary Corey
December 16, 1990
A gas station attendant hanging out with Arsenio, chattin with Oprah and touring Beverly Hills?
Bill Pettaway still can't believe it's true.
But it is, thanks to "Girl You Know It's True."
Only problem is, the hit single he wrote has turned out to have one false note. Pop duo Milli Vanilli recently admitted to having faked singing it -- and every other song on their album of the same name.
Of the controversy that caused them to return their Grammy, he says simply: "I stay neutral. I just write the songs."
For a dyslexic child who was misdiagnosed as retarded, music opened up a world of self-expression. "Music gave me my personality. It taught me my identity," says Mr. Pettaway, 30, of Annapolis.
After graduating from high school, he studied guitar and headed to New York to find stardom. Years later he returned, broke and wiser to the ways of the industry.
But he hadn't given up. In his spare time, he continued writing songs in his studio basement, including "Girl You Know It's True," which eventually caught the attention of Arista Records.
Although success has changed his life, he's determined to remain levelheaded.
He's splurged on a mink coat for his mom, but a Ferrari for himself is still out of the question, he says. And although his latest, "True Love, Too Late," is expected to debut next month, he plans to continue living with his folks and working at the Amoco station.
"A lot of people ask me, 'Why are you still working here?' " he says. "Sure, I could move to Beverly Hills, but that wouldn't be reality for me."