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Dolly Parton Sheds Light on Husband’s Need for Privacy

Dolly Parton
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

It is a well-known fact that Dolly Parton‘s husband, Carl Dean, could rival George Jones as the No. 1 no-show in country music! While Parton is constantly in the public eye, Dean prefers to remain in the background and let his celebrity wife take the spotlight.

The couple, who were married 45 years this past May, are very supportive of each other, but early on in their marriage, Dean decided that going out to fancy dinners and hanging out at awards shows were not things he enjoyed.

Parton told the audience at the recent Marty Stuart Jam at the Ryman Auditorium of the couple’s first and only outing at a country music event. The occasion was a BMI dinner in 1966, where Parton was to pick up her first songwriting award, for the Bill Phillips recording of “Put It Off Until Tomorrow,” which the singer co-wrote with her uncle, Bill Owens. At the time, Parton was 20 years old and not yet signed as a recording artist; she also sang harmony on the hit single.

“This was my first big record. It went to No. 1 for Bill, and it was BMI’s Song of the Year,” Parton says. “So Carl and I got dressed up, he was in a tux, and we drove to the dinner. We got out and walked up the red carpet and went inside and sat through dinner and the awards, and I went up and got my award.

“After the dinner, we walked back out, and they brought us our car — I don’t even remember what we were driving then — and we got in it and headed for home,” she continues. “Carl turned to me and said, ‘Dolly, I want you to have everything you want, and I’m happy for you, but don’t you ever ask me to go to another one of them dang things again!’”

Parton and Dean met in 1964, on the day the country icon moved to Nashville. She was at the Wishy Washy Laundromat, and he drove by in his white Chevrolet pickup, then drove by again for a second look.

Parton was always up front with Dean, telling him that she had no intention of staying home to wash dishes and clean the house, but that she intended to pursue her dream of becoming a country singer. He had no objections, so she agreed to get married, which they did, on May 30, 1966, in Ringgold, Ga.

Dean runs a road-paving company in Nashville and to this day does not accompany Parton to her music-related festivities, instead preferring to join her at family gatherings and other private events. She says that he may not enjoy a public image, but he has a romantic side, often surprising her with the little things he does for her. She also has said that he has only seen her in concert “a time or two.”

NEXT: Top 10 Dolly Parton Songs

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