Throughout his career, Elvis Presley performed and recorded a number of songs from other artists. Dolly Parton was one of the most prolific songwriters at the time and the Nine To Five star had penned a track that had intrigued the King of Rock and Roll. However, the singer would not let Elvis buy the rights to it.
In the 1970s Elvis wanted to record Dolly’s 1974 song I Will Always Love You – but there was a catch.
Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker, asked for half of Dolly’s publishing rights to the track.
Speaking in a new interview, Dolly revealed: “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. But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket.”
The singer added: “You have to take care of your business! Everybody’s going to use you if they can.” (Via W Magazine)
Dolly went on to explain why she couldn’t let Elvis take her song.
She said: “These are my songs – they’re like my children. And I expect them to support me when I’m old!”
Speaking on Living and Learning with Reba McEntire in 2020, Dolly said: “It didn’t have anything to do with Elvis. I loved Elvis. But, I already had a No. 1 song, I Will Always Love You.”
Dolly reluctantly replied: “Well, that throws a new light on this because I can’t give you half the publishing. I’m gonna leave that to my family. I can’t do that.”
Despite the pair not working together on I Will Always Love You, it seems there were no hard feelings between them.
Dolly told W Magazine: “Priscilla, Elvis’s wife, told me that when she and Elvis divorced, Elvis sang my song to her. That touched me so deeply.”
20 years later Dolly’s song was covered by fellow American star Whitney Houston.
Whitney’s version of I Will Always Love You was recorded in 1992 and reached number one in the Singles Charts worldwide.
Dolly noted: “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.”