Dolly Parton always puts on a show. She always has. Whether it’s her unexpected musicianship on display or her timeless humor, she always has something up her sleeve to entertain. In a classic clip, we get Dolly Parton “goofing on Elvis.”
It’s from an HBO special that she filmed in 1983. Dolly Parton: Live From London was filmed just six years after Elvis Presley died. Dolly begins her performance of “All Shook Up” by telling the crowd how she developed her Elvis impersonation.
“I’d get up on the hill above the barnyard and I’d pretend like I was Elvis,” she says in the clip. “I thought about Elvis, had he been a woman, especially one like me, I’d have been on television, they’d have shot me from the neck up then, right?”
You see, the television cameras then wouldn’t show Elvis Presley shaking his hips. Check out the clip of Dolly’s impersonation below.
“Well anyhow, this is sort of how I used to entertain them chickens and hogs and stuff,” she continued. “This is sort of how it looked. God knows I ain’t no Elvis. There will never be another one. But I thought this might be fun. And he might be watching us. He might get a kick out of it.”
Dolly definitely has the hip shaking down. She surely practiced it a bunch watching the king of rock and roll on television.
The Time Elvis Almost Recorded Dolly Parton
They never quite worked together, but it got pretty close. In W Magazine, Dolly Parton revealed that Elvis wanted to record “I Will Always Love You.” Colonel Tom Parker came to Parton and asked about the song that she had written. He wanted half of her publishing rights from the song. That was in 1973.
Dolly Parton is about 27-years-old at this point, and surely awestruck that someone she admired so much would ask to sing a song she wrote. Ever the smart businesswoman, she refused the offer.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the publishing,'” she said. “I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart – I cried all night. But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket. You have to take care of your business! Everybody’s going to use you if they can. These are my songs – they’re like my children. And I expect them to support me when I’m old!”
Elvis did sing the song, but we’ll never hear it. Priscilla Presley later told Dolly that when she and Elvis divorced, he sang the song to her.
“They also played the song at Whitney Houston’s funeral,” she said. “After that, I thought, ‘I bet they’ll play the same song when I go.'”