Why Dolly Parton Told Elvis Presley He Couldn’t Record ‘I Will Always Love You’
Dolly Parton's signature song, "I Will Always Love You," earned her a No. 1 hit, and a stellar cover version from Whitney Houston elevated the song to truly iconic status. But in a recent podcast interview, Parton reveals that she actually turned down an even more legendary artist who wanted to record the song: Elvis Presley.
"It was Colonel Tom Parker, his manager, who was brilliant. You can’t take that way from people. He did all right by him," she continues. "But, I already had a No. 1 song, "I Will Always Love You." And that was the most important copyright I had in my publishing company. And so I was so excited, I told everybody. They had called me that Elvis was recording it, and if I wanted to come to the studio. Elvis wanted to meet me and all that."
Parton was thrilled that Presley was going to record her song, until a complication arose.
The Most Unforgettable Dolly Parton Moments:
"And the night before the session, Colonel Tom called me and said, ‘You know, we don’t record anything with Elvis unless we have the publishing, or at least half the publishing,'" she recalls. "I said, ‘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 said, ‘I can’t do that.’ And he said, ‘Well, then we can’t do it.’ And I cried all night. ‘Cause I thought, ‘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.'”
Parton's appearance with McEntire and her co-host, former Reba co-star Melissa Peterman, was part of an episode titled "Forging Your Own Path." Elsewhere in the episode, McEntire opened up about having to take over her own business after divorcing her husband and longtime manager, Narvel Blackstock, in 2015.