Dolly Parton says she ‘cried all night’ after turning down Elvis deal

Dolly Parton says she “cried all night long” after a deal for Elvis Presley to sing her song I Will Always Love You went sour.

Parton’s 1974 tune went on to become a hit for Whitney Houston in 1992, as the lead track for the film The Bodyguard.

However, if history had turned out differently, it could have been a song more closely associated with The King.

Elvis Presley has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Image: Elvis Presley was keen to cover I Will Always Love You

Parton told The Big Issue that Presley had approached her to record a version of the ballad, but she had turned him down over money.

The 74-year-old country star said: “I’d been invited down to the studio to meet Elvis and be there when he sang my song. That was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me. Who doesn’t love Elvis?

“But then Colonel (Tom Parker, Presley’s manager) called me the afternoon before the session and said ‘You do know we have to have at least half the publishing on any song that Elvis records?’

“And I said ‘No, I did not know that’. He said ‘Well, it’s just a rule’. So I said ‘Well, it’s not my rule’.”

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Parton added: “And I cried all night long, because I was so disappointed. It wasn’t Elvis, I loved Elvis. And I’m sure he was as disappointed as I was because he had it all worked up and ready to go. I know he loved the song.”

She also said she would choose Presley as her “last conversation” if she could speak to anyone from history, so that she could clear up the dispute.

Dolly Parton pictured in London as part of a 1977 tour
Image: Parton would love to speak to him one more time, to settle the dispute

“I’d probably talk about I Will Always Love You and say ‘Hey, I bet you were as disappointed as I was about all that and I still dream about you singing that song’.

“Matter of fact, I even wrote a song called I Dreamed About Elvis Last Night and I had an Elvis soundalike sing it with me and we actually sing ‘I will always love you’ in it.

“And one day, I’m going to put that track out. So I think that I’d talk to Elvis, and just clear that up with him.”

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She also said that Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla, once told her that Elvis sang the song to her after they left the court hand-in-hand following their divorce.

Parton added: “That really touched me and I thought ‘Oh well, I can only imagine’. But it wasn’t his fault.”

Dolly Parton’s full Letter To My Younger Self is available in The Big Issue from Wednesday 2 December.

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