It took Dolly Parton a lot of courage to turn someone like Elvis Presley down. He is the King of Rock and Roll in the first place. To refuse his offer would really be an unwise decision to make. However, this wasn’t the case for Parton. She admitted how it broke her heart when the time has come that she has to say “no” to Presley’s offer. But she’s also grateful that she listened to her guts, and she never regretted her decision.
The Story of When Dolly Said No to Elvis
It happened in 1974, just after the release of Parton’s hit single “I Will Always Love You.” Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker made an effort to reach out to Parton with an offer in exchange of Presley recording her song. That offer would have taken half of Parton’s songwriting rights. She was torn, for real. It broke her heart that she has to turn down Presley. Sure she knew how far her song could have gotten had the Rock and Roll King recorded it. Yet, she also believed in her talent so she kept the rights to the song to herself.
In interview with Event magazine, Parton shared the heartbreaking moment that she had when she made the difficult decision.
“I was desperate for Elvis to sing my song and I’d told everyone he was going to sing it, but I couldn’t let that happen. It’s my song, my publishing rights. It broke my heart but I had to turn him down.”
She revealed how sorry she was and the situation made her cry all night. But she also admitted that she just followed what her heart told her. It made her wonder all the while though how the song would sound like if she let Presley record it.
Listen to Parton’s 1974 performance of the song below.
The Success of “I Will Always Love You”
“I Will Always Love You” became one of Paton’s most successful hits. It first topped the Billboard charts in 1974. When she re-recorded the song in 1982, it became a No. 1 hit again. That earned the singer her reputation as the first artist to reach No. 1 on the country charts for the same song in separate decades. Then in 1995, she collaborated with Vince Gill for a duet recording of the song. Both garnered CMA’s “Vocal Event of the Year” award in 1996.
Four decades later, “I Will Always Love You” remains a touching love song.
Here’s Parton and Gill’s duet performance of the song.
Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, I Will Always Love You