Dolly Parton recalls the ‘heartbreaking’ decision to turn down Elvis when he wanted to cut ‘I’ll Always Love You’

Can you even imagine The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll recording country music’s most famous queen song?

Well, it could have happened…

Back in 1974, Dolly Parton Make a phone call to Elvis Notorious director, Colonel Parker, the day before Elvis was supposed to go to the studio to cut “I Will Always Love You” to discuss the deal.

She said she had already agreed to let him record it, though nothing has been signed or made official with ink yet. During this call he told her that they are asking for all copyright, or at least 50%, so that Elvis can record a song.

In a 2018 cover story with UK magazine EventDolly gave more insight into how it all happened:

“His manager Colonel Parker called me the day before he was scheduled to record the song and said, ‘Now you know that Elvis must have the copyright or at least half the copyright to any song he records.'”

And then I felt there was no way she could go through:

“That was my most important copyright at the time. If it was a new song, I might have thought of it.”

She released an independent single in 1974, when it peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in the United States later that year, and was re-released in October 1982, with a re-recording of Best little bitch house in texas Audio recording.

Unlike almost every other artist in the music industry, or at least many of them, Dolly has always maintained full ownership of her copyright, except for a very small handful in her catalog that she doesn’t fully own.

A brilliant move from a business point of view, she started the company (Owe-Par) in 1966 at the age of 20, along with her late uncle Bill. appreciate her income of kings $6-8 million for popular songs like the ones we’re talking about today, “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene”, among a lot of others.

As I mentioned before, she might have thought about giving the rights to Elvis if it was a different song he wanted to record, but she couldn’t let go of that song, knowing what a special and important song it was.

I mean, she was over the moon to make Elvis want to sing her song, and she told everyone she knew that she was going to sing it. But at the end of the day, she had to follow her intuition and couldn’t let go if she didn’t keep the rights:

“I was desperate for Elvis to sing my song and told everyone he was going to sing it, but I just couldn’t let that happen.

It’s my song and my copyright. It broke my heart but I had to turn it down.”

I can’t even imagine being in this situation (or eventually turning down Elvis), and I think most people would have accepted and left it to him. But Dolly wanted to give all the rights in her catalog to her family one day, and she couldn’t risk it however much she wanted him to sing it.

Hell, Dolly Parton was probably the only woman on the planet who turned Elvis down for anything…

And it compounded the feeling, even decades later, that it’s still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done:

“This was one of the hardest things I had to do because I loved Elvis.”

It just makes you wonder what it would have been if he had gotten his hands on it…

And Dolly continues to do so, too, saying:

“He would have sung it wonderfully. Can you imagine Elvis singing ‘I’ll Always Love You’?”

I could, and it was nothing short of amazing, I’m sure of it.

Of course, Whitney Houston eventually covered the track of the popular 1992 movie Bodyguardand spent 14 weeks at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, setting a new record at the time, when it became one of the best-selling singles of all time and the best-selling single by a woman.

Good thing she didn’t waive those copyrights… Whitney’s copy got paid.

And while you’re here, be sure to check out one of my favorite life shows, Dolly singing her dazzling and timeless song when she debuted: