On Feb. 19, 1974, forty-six years ago today, Dolly Parton marked a new era in her country music career.
On this date, she announced that she would be ending her longtime partnership with Porter Wagoner after more than seven years of singing and writing songs together.
Dolly Parton began her relationship with Wagoner long before she became the household name she’s known as today.
Parton’s Heartache Over Split Helped Create Classic Hit
In the years following, the two developed a longtime friendship which resulted in recording several albums together. Together they released Just the Two of Us and Together Always.
However, Dolly Parton decided to cut ties with Wagoner to move on and grow as a solo artist.
“I was trying to get away on my own because I had promised to stay with Porter’s show for five years. I had been there for seven,” Parton told CMT. “And we fought a lot. We were very much alike, we were both stubborn.
“We both believed that we knew what was best for us. Well, he believed he knew what was best for me, too, and I believed that I knew more what was best for me at that time,” the Tennessee native added. “So, needless to say, there was a lot of grief and heartache there, and he just wasn’t listening to my reasoning for my going.”
As a way to deal with the “breakup,” Parton put her grief on paper and released the class hit, “I Will Always Love You.”
“It’s saying, ‘Just because I’m going don’t mean I won’t love you. I appreciate you, and I hope you do great, and I appreciate everything you’ve done, but I’m out of here,'” Parton explains. “[That’s] basically what I was saying. And I took it in the next morning. I said, ‘Sit down, Porter. I’ve written this song, and I want you to hear it.’ So I did sing it. And he was crying. He said, ‘That’s the prettiest song I ever heard. And you can go, providing I get to produce that record.’ And he did, and the rest is history.”
Dolly Parton Returns to Porter Wagoner’s Side Before His Death
After the duo parted ways, Parton went on to have a string of hits, including “Here You Come Again,” “You’re the Only One,” and “9 to 5.”
Even though Parton found stardom on her own, she never forgot the person who believed in her when she was just a young girl from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
Even though their relationship was on the rocks for many years, the two country stars reconciled at the end of Wagoner’s life.
While Wagoner was in hospice care, Parton made sure to have one last visit with her old pal.
Coincidently, Parton visited him on the day he died.
“It was really, really hard,” Parton recalls to Knoxville’s News Sentinel. “I held his hand, and we prayed … Porter’s soul was already with God. All that was left was a shell.”