Legendary artists and Country Music Hall of Fame members Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner were among the most successful duos ever created in country music history. But, did you know that they also had the nastiest feud ever known in the industry?
They began working together in 1967 after Wagoner offered Parton a sought-after spot not only on his weekly TV program but also on his traveling show. Together, they recorded beautiful songs and released several albums such as Together Always and Porter Wayne and Dolly Rebecca, among others. Moreover, many of their records had charted and became best-selling hits, including their only No. 1 song “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me.”
Country Music’s Nastiest Feud
Despite the commercial success of their projects, not everything in their seven-year partnership is beautiful. In 1973, Parton realized that she wanted to achieve something bigger in her career. So, she decided to leave The Porter Wagoner Show and pursue a solo career. However, Wagoner didn’t feel the same way. He wanted her to stay and continue what they’ve started. However, Parton insisted on leaving, thinking that she knew better than anyone else what’s best for her.
“I was with Porter for seven years, and I learned so many things from Porter. We had one of those relationships where we were just so passionate about what we did; it was like fire and ice” Parton told Tennessean. “We kind of butted heads all the time, but we loved each other. There was a great passion there. And I wanted to leave the show. I had told Porter that I would stay with the show for five years. I wanted to go out on my own.”
Wagoner responded to Parton’s decision in a legal way. He filed a breach of contract lawsuit. The two became estranged for many years.
“I Will Always Love You”
Before Parton finally left The Porter Wagoner Show, she wrote a song for Wagoner. It’s the best way she’d thought of to let him know she appreciated everything he did for her, especially in her career. She also wanted him to understand why she had to go. That song was no other than “I Will Always Love You.”
As soon as she finished writing the song, she told Wagoner about it and even sang it to him. Then he began crying. Indeed, Parton was so clever with the idea of writing a song to communicate better what she wants to tell Wagoner. After singing, Wagoner agreed on letting her go on one condition.
“Well, hell! If you feel that strong about it, just go on — providing I get to produce that record because that’s the best song you ever wrote,” said Wagoner.
Written about her professional break from Wagoner, “I Will Always Love You” went on to become one of the most successful records of Parton’s career. The enduring song topped the charts several times over the years. Also, it has been repeatedly covered by various artists, including Whitney Houston.
The Reunion of Parton and Wagoner
It took 14 years since their breakup before Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner had a duet. The first time they performed again was in 1988 during the taping of Parton’s TV show Dolly! In 2007, they again shared the stage for a performance of the iconic song at the Grand Ole Opry and they both loved the performance. Fortunately, the two had reconciled prior to Wagoner’s death in October 2007. Also, Parton was beside him on the day he passed away. She admitted that she sang “I Will Always Love You” a little bit to him on that day. Parton also shared that she has a great relationship with Wagoner’s children in her future interviews.