The Dolly Parton Song Elvis Sang To Priscilla Presley After Their Divorce

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Elvis Presley met Priscilla Presley completely by chance in 1959 when she was 14 and he was 24. The two had a romance that was often questioned by the adults around them, primarily Priscilla's parents, but in 1967, at the age of 21 and 32 respectively, Priscilla and her "Burning Love" husband tied the knot. By the time one of Dolly Parton's most famous tracks, written about a professional breakup she experienced in her own life, was recorded, Presley and his young bride were facing a breakup of their own.

In 1973, after the couple formally signed their divorce papers, they descended the steps of the courthouse hand in hand. Despite growing apart, it was clear the rock n' roll icon still very much cared for his ex-wife, Priscilla. So much so that he crooned Parton's "I Will Always Love You" as his undying promise of eternal affection to the former queen of Graceland.

Talking to BBC Radio 2, the "9 to 5" singer admitted, "I talked to Priscilla not very long ago. She said to me, 'You know, Elvis sang that song to me when we walked down the courthouse steps when we got divorced. He was singing to me, 'I Will Always Love You.'" The pair would continue to remain close right up until his death.

Elvis Presley loved the song so much he wanted to record it

Dolly Parton continued telling BBC Radio 2 about just how much Elvis Presley connected with her hit "I Will Always Love You," saying that he wanted to release a version of it himself, but she had to turn the offer down. It definitely wasn't because she didn't like him as a person; the "Dollywood" founder has made it clear that she respects the King of Rock and Roll, releasing her own track titled "I Dreamed of Elvis" on her "Rockstar" album.

Instead, it was because Presley's manager wanted her to give up some of her publishing rights. Speaking to W Magazine, Parton explained that she was unable to hand over the rights to Colonel Tom Parker because he would own half of her song. Ultimately, she decided to do what was best for her and her career, even though it was emotionally devastating. She continued, "I cried all night," but she admitted of her songs, "I expect them to support me when I'm old!". And support her the track did, netting Parton at least $10 million in royalty fees since its inception due to her holding full copyrights, according to Insider

But there is one person Parton agreed to let cover the song — Whitney Houston. The legend famously sang it in 1992, and its popularity only made "I Will Always Love You" more lucrative for Parton, who joked that when Houston released her rendition, "I had enough money to buy Graceland," via Express.  

Were Dolly Parton and Elvis Friends?

The legends had a fair amount in common. Elvis Presley was clearly enamored with at least one of Dolly Parton's songs, and she had a lot of respect for him. They also both had similar upbringings. It may be the latter that has led Parton to say, "I always felt that we were kin," explaining that he was one of the people she related to most in her life, according to the book "Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton" that references a statement given to "Playboy" in 1978.

Nevertheless, Parton has admitted that their paths never crossed, continuing, "Every time he'd come in town, even if I was home, I just wouldn't go, somethin' always kept me from going." Reportedly, before the publishing rights issue ended the deal for Presley to record "I Will Always Love You," Parton was planning to have a meet and greet with him for the very first time. She admitted to BBC Radio 2 that the papers hadn't been officially signed, but she was planning to head to the studio to meet Presley and hear him sing his version the next day before Colonel Tom Parker called her the night before and broke the news about the copyrights. 

Today, there's no evidence that the two musical legends ever met, they were just two talented individuals who respected one another's work.