Dolly Parton performs ‘I Will Always Love You’ in 1979
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After over 50 years in show business, Dolly Parton – who has sold over 100 million records worldwide – still shows no sign of stopping. Over the course of her incredible career, the 77-year-old has known some big names, but did you know she once turned down Elvis Presley himself? The Country star may have ended up in tears, but having held off ended up massively benefitting her years later. It’s not very often that a singer’s called up and told that not only does Elvis Presley want to meet them, but also wants to cover a song they wrote. And that’s exactly what happened to a young Dolly back in the early 1970s with her hit song I Will Always Love You.
Speaking on Living and Learning with Reba McEntire, the singer said: “I was so excited, I told everybody. They had called me [to tell me] that Elvis was recording it, and [asked] if I wanted to come to the studio. Elvis wanted to meet me and all that.”
However, that evening before the session, The King’s manager Colonel Tom Parker called her up. He said to Dolly: “You know, we don’t record anything with Elvis unless we have the publishing, or at least half the publishing.” She replied: “Well, that throws a new light on this because I can’t give you half the publishing. I’m gonna leave that to my family. I can’t do that.” So the uncompromising Colonel told her that Elvis couldn’t cover the track as those were the terms.
Dolly admitted: “I cried all night. Oh, I just pictured Elvis, like, singing it. And I know that Elvis loved it. And I know it wasn’t him, but it’s true. I said no.” Yet, in the end, standing up to the Colonel proved to be an expert move by her.
In 1992, Whitney Houston recorded I Always Love You and made the Country star’s two-time No 1 her very own. The Bodyguard singer’s cover version spent a record-breaking 14 weeks at No 1 and is the sixth best-selling single of all time with 20 million sales. In fact, Houston just beats Elvis in seventh place with It’s Now or Never. Dolly has since joked that the royalties from the famous cover made her enough money to buy Graceland.
Despite things working out for her, Dolly always wished she could have set things straight with Elvis, who died in 1977, and ended up having a dream where this happened. The 77-year-old turned this into a song called I Dreamed About Elvis Last Night. She has only ever performed the track live in concert with a tribute artist of the King, but plans to record it one day.
What’s particularly sweet is that Priscilla Presley once told Dolly that the late star sang the track to her on the steps of the courthouse after they divorced in 1973. Unsurprisingly, this fact really touched Dolly.
Upon news of Lisa Marie’s sudden death at 54 just a week ago, the Country star shared a touching tribute on her Instagram.
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Dolly wrote: “Priscilla, I know how sad you must be. May God comfort you this time. Elvis, I know how happy you must be to finally have her home and to have her back with you. Lisa Marie, may you rest in peace. We all love all of you. Dolly.”
This Sunday, Lisa Marie will be buried at Graceland next to her son Benjamin, who died aged 27 in 2020. Their final resting place is in the Meditation Garden where Elvis’ grave is along with other Presley family members.
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