Following an issue with his manager Colonel Tom Parker, Dolly Parton‘s plan to let Elvis Presley record ‘I Will Always Love You’ never came to pass.
During an appearance on BBC Radio 2, the now 77-years-old the country music superstar confirmed conversations with Elvis about letting him record the ballad she penned decades ago. The king loved the track and even sang it to his wife Priscilla after they got divorced, but Parton said that the deal fell apart after the singer’s controversial manager tried to force her to sign over the publishing rights to him.
Dolly explained: “I wouldn’t let Colonel Tom Parker [have the rights to the song]. Elvis loved it. I talked to Priscilla not very long ago. ‘Elvis sang it to me when we were on the courthouse steps after we got divorced.’ “He loved the song and wanted to do it. Had it worked up. They’d already called me to come down to the studio and to hear part of the song.”
According to Dolly, a phone call from Parker at the time changed everything “But then Colonel Tom Parker, 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’. He said ‘Well, it’s just a rule’. So I said ‘Well, it’s not my rule’… This is the most important copyright in my whole publishing company, and I can’t do that.”
Admitting that she was “heartbroken” and burst into tears, Parton added: “I cried all night long, ’cause I was so disappointed. 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. I know he loved the song.”
Throughout the the track has been record by the likes of Linda Ronstadt and LeAnn Rimes, but it was Whitney Houston’s 1992 version that turned the track into a global sensation.