Dolly Parton is a businesswoman through and through. She wouldn’t even change her rules when it came to megastar Elvis Presley.
In The Big Issue’s A Letter to My Younger Self, the country superstar is opening up about not comprising with Elvis’s manager Colonel Tom Paker. Elvis wanted to record Parton’s song “I Will Always Love You.”
The big day was planned out, and Parker invited Parton to the studio to be there when Elvis recorded the song. Parton reflects on her feelings that day.
“That was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me,” she says. “Who doesn’t love Elvis?”
However, Parker surprised Parton with some shocking news. “Then Colonel called me the afternoon before the session and said, ‘you do know we have to have at least half the publishing on any song that Elvis records?’ And I said no, I did not know that,” Parton remembers.
“He said, ‘well, it’s just a rule.’ So I said, well, it’s not my rule.” I said I hate this more than you could even imagine but I cannot give you half the publishing. I just can’t do it and I won’t do it,” she said.
“I Will Always Love You” was a No. 1 song for Parton, and she felt it was the most important song in her musical catalog. However, the country legend was upset about the conversations and how things played out. Presley never recorded the song as a result.
“I cried all night long, ‘cause I was so disappointed,” the hit singer says, “It wasn’t Elvis, I loved Elvis. And I’m sure he was as disappointed as I was because he had it all worked up and ready to go.”
Dolly Parton Finds Out Connection to Her Song
Parton knew the history behind “I Will Always Love You” and why Elvis wanted to record the song. It songs she says that he loved.
“Priscilla [Presley] told me later that he sang that song to her when they were coming down the steps of the courthouse after they divorced. That really touched me, and I thought, oh well, I can only imagine,” Parton says.
However, she knew that this wasn’t her fault. She also found out more news about the hard-nosed manager.
“I found out later that Colonel Tom had an even bigger demand for any brand new song Elvis recorded; in those cases, 100 percent of the publishing went to them,” Parton recounts. “Yeah, Tom was a strict manager, he was a good manager, and I don’t blame him for asking, but I don’t blame me for saying no.”
Whitney Houston Sings ‘I Will Always Love You’
As history has it though, iconic singer Whitney Houston, ended up recording the song years later. It’s one of Houston’s biggest hits.
Houston’s version of the song continued to gain momentum when it became the soundtrack for the movie “The Bodyguard” starring Houston and Kevin Costner.