Country Throwback: Dolly Parton Shares Behind the Scenes Peek of Tour Bus in 1977

by Clayton Edwards

In 1977, Dolly Parton was just starting her campaign to cross over into pop music. In that year Dolly released two albums, “New Harvest… First Gathering” and “Here You Come Again.” The latter would be the album that gave her crossover success.

Before the release of that album, the singer-songwriter sat down with Barbara Walters. They discussed several things, among them, Dolly’s impressive tour bus.

The tour bus was home for Dolly Parton and her band for most of the year. In 1976, they spent a total of three hundred days on the road. Sitting at the dining table on the bus, Dolly tells Walters that if she’s home for more than two weeks she starts to get restless. In short, the tour bus had to be comfortable enough to feel like home while they traveled the country.

The enormous bus accommodated eleven people. Dolly had her own small room in the back of the bus. That room included a bed, bathroom, storage space for her wigs, and three closets.

The price tag of the bus is as impressive as the space inside. In 1977 it cost $150,000. In today’s money that’s a little over half a million dollars. While the expense may seem lavish, every inch of the interior of the bus was planned out for practicality. This combination of practicality and opulence is a theme in Dolly Parton’s life and appearance.

Dolly Parton: Flashy Yet Practical

Dolly Parton highlights this balance while showing Barbara Walters her closet full of stage outfits. She tells the journalist that all of the outfits were wrinkle-free and hand washable. Because of this, she didn’t have to worry about dry cleaning or ironing on the road. It’s almost hard to believe that her glamorous attire could be that easy to maintain.

In the interview, Dolly was very open about why she wanted to cross over into pop stardom. She gave two reasons. Because Dolly Parton has always been a businesswoman, she was thinking about the money she could make by crossing over. At the same time, she wanted to reach as many people as possible with her music. Gaining a new audience and airplay on more stations would help her make the money and reach more people. To her, it seemed like the obvious decision to make.

In a final illustration of the duality of Dolly Parton, she maintains her mountain roots. As she sits in her custom-built bus speaking to Barbara Walters ahead of what would be a country-pop cross over hit record, she doesn’t try to hide where she is from. From her mannerisms and way of speaking to her accent and frankness, Dolly never shies away from her rural Tennessee roots.

Dolly Predicts the Future

The most fascinating part about this interview isn’t the tour bus or the costumes. It is watching two legends in their field have an open discussion early in their careers. Dolly Parton talks about where she wants her career to go. More importantly, she shared two of her dreams for the future. She wanted to make as many people happy as possible and she wanted to be recognized everywhere she went. She has nailed both of those.

Through Dolly’s loving nature and generous charitable donations, she has brought joy as well as education to countless people. At the same time, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t, at the very least, know Dolly’s name.