Country Throwback: Watch Dolly Parton Belt ‘I Will Always Love You’ at Kenny Rogers Farewell Concert

by Katie Maloney

Three years ago, Dolly Parton graced the stage at Bridgestone Arena for “All In For The Gambler,” a farewell concert celebration for Kenny Rogers. 

Chris Stapleton, The Judds, Lionel Richie, Idina Menzel, Kris Kristofferson, Lady Antebellum, and more, all performed in honor of Rogers. However, the most exciting part of the night took place when Rogers joined Parton on stage. The duo performed their 1983 award-winning hit “Islands In The Stream.”

Then, Parton sang her heartfelt song, “I Will Always Love You” to Rogers. Rogers pushed back tears as he sat on a stool next to Parton with his arm around her. The performance showed fans the true connection between the two country music superstars.

Dolly Parton Had To Pull Over In Her Car When She Heard Whitney Houston’s Version Of The Song

Parton wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You” as a single in1973. Although the song sounds like it’s about the end of a romantic relationship, Parton actually wrote the song about the end of a professional partnership. She wrote the song as a goodbye to her former partner and mentor, Porter Wagoner.

Parton decided to leave The Porter Wagoner Show and pursue a solo career. So, she wrote the song as a tribute to her connection to her friend and mentor. Almost 20 years after it was first recorded, Whitney Houston recorded “I Will Always Love You” for her movie The Bodyguard. The song quickly became a career-defining tune for Houston.

During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Parton talks about hearing Houston perform the song for the first time. Dolly says that she was driving home from her office in downtown Nashville when the song came on the radio.

“I was shot so full of adrenaline and energy, I had to pull off because I was afraid that I would wreck, so I pulled over quick as I could to listen to that whole song,” Parton says. “I could not believe how she did that, I mean, how beautiful it was that my little song had turned into that, so that was a major, major thing.”