Why Elvis Never Recorded Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You

The classic Dolly Parton love song, "I Will Always Love You," has a storied history that goes back decades. Parton first released the song she wrote in 1974 and it became a chart-topper immediately. She later recorded the song again when she sang it in the 1982 movie musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and once again, it became a number one hit for Parton, according to Good Housekeeping.

A decade later, the song became a hit once again when Whitney Houston did a cover of it for the movie "The Bodyguard," with Parton revealing in 2021 on "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen" that she used some of the royalties she earned from that recording to invest in an office complex in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee. "I just thought, 'This was great. I'm going to be down here with [Whitney's] people, who are my people as well.' And so I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, 'This is the house that Whitney built,'" Parton told Cohen.

However, there is one superstar who wanted to record the song and Parton never gave him the chance. That superstar was "The King" himself — Elvis Presley.

Dolly Parton refused to give up the rights to her most famous song

"I Will Always Love You" was still fairly new in the 1970s when Elvis Presley wanted to record the song — but he also wanted half of Dolly Parton's publishing rights and the singer and astute businesswoman didn't want to give that away.

"I said, 'I'm sorry, but I can't give you the publishing.' I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart — I cried all night," Parton told W Magazine. "But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket. You have to take care of your business! Everybody's going to use you if they can. These are my songs — they're like my children. And I expect them to support me when I'm old!"

Parton also relayed her affection for the song, as well as another Elvis tidbit she learned after she turned down his bid to record her most famous tune. "Priscilla, Elvis's wife, told me that when she and Elvis divorced, Elvis sang my song to her. That touched me so deeply. And they also played the song at Whitney Houston's funeral. After that, I thought, I bet they'll play the same song when I go."