On This Day: Dolly Parton Releases Iconic ‘I Will Always Love You’ in 1974

by Jacklyn Krol
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Dolly Parton released “I Will Always Love You” on March 11, 1974.

Dolly Parton and Her Chart Topper

The Gold-certified smash was inspired by her departure from The Porter Wagoner Show. Dolly Parton co-starred with Wagoner for seven years on his hit variety show. Parton might have written the song the same day as her hit “Jolene.”

The song is off of her historic record Jolene. Parton is one of the handful of musicians in history to reach the coveted No. 1 spot, a total of three times, twice recorded by Parton.

After her original recording which released in 1974, she then re-recorded the song for The Best Little Whorehouse movie in 1982. She once again topped the country charts. In 1992, Whitney Houston recorded a pop cover for her film The Bodyguard.

Houston’s rendition stayed at the top of the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart for a total of 14 weeks. It has the title of a best-selling single from a solo female in history.

“With Whitney, when I first heard her sing it,” Parton told Zane Lowe. “I was so overwhelmed, so emotional about how she did it. But also the fact, it was my song. So I feel it from different places.”

“The fact it was my song and what I was feeling with me, then how well done, my little song could be all that. It humbles you really. So yes, it really has a big effect on you,” she added.

Furthermore, the song won Dolly Parton the CMA Vocal Event of the Year.

Turning Down Elvis

Dolly Parton recalled the story of Elvis Presley wanting to record the song on Reba McEntire’s podcast, Living & Learning With Reba McEntire.

“I was so excited, I told everybody that Elvis was recording it. They said if I wanted to come to the studio for the session, Elvis wanted to meet me. Anyways, I was so excited he was going to do it,” Parton explained.

The night before the big session, Colonel Tom Park, his manager, wanted 50 percent of the royalties.

“The night before the session Tom called me. He said ‘You know we don’t record anything with Elvis unless we have the publishing or at least half the publishing.’ And I said “Well that’s a new light on things because I can’t give you half the publishing. I’m going to leave that to my family,’” she continued. “I said ‘I can’t do that.’ And he said ‘Well then we can’t do it.”

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