Dolly Parton Opens Up About Leaving ‘Porter Wagoner Show’ To Go Out On Her Own

by Clayton Edwards

Back in 2020, Dolly Parton appeared on the “Living and Learning with Reba McEntire” podcast. The episode was all about forging your own path in both your life and career. Dolly knows more about blazing your own trail than just about anyone else. The icon has spent decades doing that very thing. She discussed how she got her start in East Tennessee, working with Porter Wagoner, and the beginnings of her solo career.

After discussing the beginnings of her career, co-host Melissa Peterman asked Dolly Parton, “When you left The Porter Wagoner Show, was that a moment that you feel like you really took control of your career and your destiny?”

Dolly Parton joked that leaving “The Porter Wagoner Show” was the grown-up version of taking control of her life. About working with the Wagonmaster, she said, “I worked with Porter for seven years and we kind of had a love-hate relationship. But, we really did some great work and we did truly care about each other.”

Dolly Parton’s goal was to have a successful solo career. Her duets with Wagoner helped to put her on the map. However, she would not be truly happy with her career until she was out on her own. Dolly told Reba and Melissa, “I really needed to get out on my own, I had never planned to stay part of somebody else’s show. I had really been going out on my own to start with.”

Dolly Parton Breaks Away

Dolly Parton had her first solo hit when “Mule Skinner Blues” went to number three on the country chart. She released “Jolene” not long after that. At that point, Dolly knew it was time to strike out on her own. Porter Wagoner, on the other hand, wasn’t ready to let her go.

In what would become a legendary moment in country music history, Dolly Parton wrote and performed “I Will Always Love You,” for Wagoner. It was through these lyrics that Dolly was able to make him understand her position. Finally, Dolly could step out on her own.

About this, she said, “When I did go out on my own, that was where I really, totally felt my independence and my strength as an entertainer, singer, writer, and as a woman. So, I would have to say that I claimed that and I have not let up since.”

Dolly Parton most certainly never let up. She has inspired countless artists and fans over the years. Her personality and charitable actions along with her music have made her the icon that she is today. Dolly’s decision to forge her own path allowed her to make the world a better place.